Temple Student Government and the Progressive NAACP held a vigil in remembrance of Jenna Burleigh. Burleigh, a 22-year-old transfer student, was reported missing by her father one week ago after she did not show up to her classes. After two days of searching, her body was discovered by police in Wayne County, Pennsylvania. Former Temple student, 29-year-old Josh Hupperterz, is charged with killing Jenna after the two met at an off-campus bar.
When he heard the news of Burleigh’s death, Temple Student Government President, Tyrell Mann-Barnes, wanted to give the Temple University community a safe space to grieve and remember Burleigh. TSG then worked with the Progressive NAACP to create an inclusive space to honor Burleigh’s memory.
“When TSG first found out about [Burleigh’s death] we were at Notre Dame and it was extremely heartbreaking,” Mann-Barnes said. “We wanted to create a vigil where we would have a sense of community and come together to grapple through this grief together instead of going through it alone.”
During the vigil, which was held in Founders Garden, students, faculty and members of the community had the opportunity to speak about their experiences with Burleigh and write letters of sympathy to her family. Burleigh was described by students and faculty as someone who cared deeply for other people and was always looking for ways to help the less fortunate. In her honor, the Burleigh family has created a charity called Jenna’s Blessing Bags for the Homeless, which will provide free backpacks to the homeless.
Temple University President Richard Englert spoke to the crowd about the impact Burleigh made on campus during her short time as a Temple University student.
“I am so impressed with how the Temple University community has responded,” Englert said, “She [Burleigh] is a remarkable woman who had been at Temple for a few days and already she has won the hearts of the Temple community. This is why I am so proud to be at Temple University.”
Mann-Barnes also spoke about on-campus resources that are available to students who are dealing with the loss of Burleigh.
“It is okay to be upset. This is a horrible event and I think it is important to acknowledge the resources we have here on campus,” said Mann-Barnes, “Whether that means going to the Tuttleman Counseling Service, the Wellness Resource Center, or talking to your professors, you do not have to go through it alone because all of us are grappling through this together.”