by Rachel Jones
Two years ago, students and families at UVA and throughout the Stuart pyramid were devastated to find out that Casey Schulman had suddenly passed away. Schulman, 22, was studying abroad with the Semester at Sea program when she died in a boating accident while swimming off the coast of Dominica.
Schulman was a 2009 graduate of J.E.B. Stuart and a senior at UVA when she suddenly passed away. Though her family was devastated, they were determined to make something good out of their sorrow. The Schulman family started “Shine On” Week at Stuart in spring 2014, in honor of Casey and in hopes of spreading encouragement and love.
Jessie Melton, a Stuart Alumna who graduated in 2011 and was very close to Schulman, wants her legacy to stay with everyone in the community for a long time. “I learned so much knowing Casey, but I think most importantly I learned to live life to the fullest, and to be eternally thankful for everything and everyone you have.” said Melton.
During Shine On Week, Students focus on impacting others in a positive way, as Casey Schulman did to those she was close to, from encouraging post it notes to making a point to show love to others in unexpected ways. Mariana Hershner, a sophomore who new Schulman through Sleepy Hollow Bath and Raquet and from growing up in the Sleepy Hollow community together, thinks that Shine On Week is an amazing way to continue to be inspired by Schulman. “She made me learn to appreciate everything and everyone, and most importantly to be thankful for what I have in my life.” said Hershner. Another friend of Schulman, senior Neeka Nazari, agrees. “I think Shine On Week has such a great message because we should all strive to create a positive atmosphere and work together to achieve happiness and success no matter where we come from.” said Nazari. “
Shine On Week was not only a week for students to honor Schulman with the way they treat others, but it was also an opportunity for students to nominate candidates that they feel portray the same positive energy that Schulman did, and one of those candidates will receive a $20,000 scholarship in remembrance of Casey Schulman. “I think [the scholarship] is a way for people to see the impacts of their kindness and positive influence on their community, because a lot of times they don’t realize how much of a difference they are making” said Nazari.
Sophomore Renee Lamarque knew Casey well through lifeguarding at the pool and being babysat by her when she was younger. “Many people might not have known who she was,” said Lamarque.“But through Shine On Week, those people now know what she meant to others, and can appreciate her life and her spirit.”