Virginia Tech will present Morgan Harrington with a posthumous degree during spring commencement Saturday.
Morgan went missing on Oct. 17, 2009 when she was in Charlottesville for a Metallica concert at the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena. Her remains were found on Jan. 26, 2010.
Jane Vance, Morgan’s mentor and instructor of the creative process, will speak during the department of religion and culture’s ceremony and present the degree.
“I think about this loss everyday,” Vance said. “It is a privilege to be able to speak.”
Morgan was Vance’s student in the creative process. Vance said she will tell the remarkable story of being Morgan’s teacher.
“Though she was 20 years old, she was in many ways as capable and rich with potential as any great friend I have had,” she said. “She was astonishing as a student, but in great part because she had the privilege of the two remarkable parents and an equally remarkable brother.”
Morgan’s parents, Dan and Gil Harrington, will be at the ceremony to accept the degree on their daughter’s behalf. Gil said the degree is a way to keep her daughter’s presence alive.
“I don’t want to erase her. This is a way of doing that,” Gil said. “She is still reverberating around here somewhere.”
Mark Owczarski, university spokesman, shares a similar sentiment.
“Giving this degree clearly shows our desire to keep these Hokies in Hokie Nation, even though they are not with us today,” he said. “It shows that though they may be gone, they are still a part of this Hokie family.”
Morgan is now a part of Nepal, where she was supposed to visit with Vance last summer. Despite her murder, Morgan still traveled with Vance.
Vance took some of Morgan’s ashes to Nepal last summer.
“I have never had a greater honor than to have carried her ashes to the sacred Himalayas,” she said, “except for graduation where I speak about this girl.”
However, Vance said she will speak for Morgan as well.
“I can talk about who she was and who she was becoming,” she said. “I remember Morgan. I loved her. I loved her. I kissed her goodbye on the side of the head and said she was amazing and said, ‘You will fly.’”
But Vance will not ignore what happened to Morgan.
“I am going to say what needs to be said about her murder,” Vance said.