Local News

Garden honors UNC's slain student body president

Posted March 4, 2010 4:02 a.m. EST
Updated March 4, 2010 6:24 p.m. EST

— The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill marked two years since the fatal shooting of a former student body president by dedicating a garden in her memory.

An estimated 400 to 500 people turned out Thursday afternoon for the dedication of the Eve Marie Carson Garden to remember the slain UNC senior.

"Here in it, we find hope and potential, and in Eve's presence, we reconnect with a treasured relative in our Carolina family," said Seth Dearmin, who met  Carson her freshman year, when he was student body president.

Two years after her death, the pain is still raw for the university community.

Carson, 22, of Athens, Ga., was kidnapped at her campus rental house early March 5, 2008, robbed and shot and killed in a neighborhood near campus, police have said.

"It digs up some emotions that I feel," senior Ashley Hodges said. "One that I kind of try to bury is anger, because I want my memories of Eve to be happy."

Yet even in the sadness, students who knew her say there is so much inspiration in Carson's life and that she left a legacy of service.

"When you were with Eve, you were really the only person in the world that mattered, and that's how she treated every single person," junior Kelsey Miller said.

Carson was a Morehead Scholar and pre-med major studying political science and biology. She also tutored and taught science at a local elementary school and volunteered in Ecuador, Egypt and Ghana on her summer breaks.

University officials said the garden, which sits in Polk Place – the main quadrangle on the UNC campus – will honor not only Carson but all UNC students, past and future, who die before they graduate.

Every aspect of the garden is intentional, university landscape architect Jill Coleman said. It includes a seating area with a blue stone seat, flanked by seasonal shrubs and flowers that were some of Carson's favorites.

The garden also has an inscription wall, made of Georgia marble that features a quote from Carson: "Learn from every single being, experience and moment. What joy it is to search for lessons and goodness and enthusiasm in others."

"One of the nice things about a garden is a sense of nature and order," Carson's father, Bob Carson, said in a UNC news release last month. "It's a great place and, as you've envisioned, it will nurture many wonderful friendships, ideas, laughs and thoughtful moments."

Carson's parents were in attendance at Thursday's dedication but chose not to speak.

Carson's legacy at UNC also includes the Eve Marie Carson Carolina Scholarship for an outstanding out-of-state student and the Eve Marie Carson Memorial Junior-Year Merit Scholarship.

The scholarships are awarded to students who have demonstrated leadership and community involvement at the campus, local or global level.

Two men – Demario James Atwater and Laurence Alvin Lovette – face numerous state charges, including first-degree murder, in Carson's death. Atwater also faces federal charges and is expected to go on trial for those in May.

Both state and federal prosecutors have indicated they will seek the death penalty against Atwater. Lovette, who was 17 at the time of Carson’s death, is not eligible for the death penalty.