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PAGE 2 // WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2010
Pfleger’s impact measured in stories from students, professors
PFLEGER from PAGE 1
on hiking and camping trips the summer
before they enter college.
Early on, Cummins says Pfleger was
nervous about the trip, but that changed
as soon as she was in West Virginia with
her new friends who were going to Elon in
the fall, called the Dyno group.
And for the students with her, Pfleger
was a large part of why they enjoyed their
“Right away you could tell she was
just an awesome person," says freshman
Jennifer Mammel, who went on the AIL
trip with Pfleger. “She was talking up a
On the trip, the group called her the
mother because she always had her act
“She was fearless — she took
everything head on,” Mammel says. “She
wasn’t even supposed to be in our group,
yet we were so privileged to have her and
to get that time to get to know her. We
were so blessed to have that time with
her. We were meant to be in her life, and
she was meant to be in ours.”
By the time she arrived on campus,
she already had a group of friends from
her trip, but Pfleger also started to make
friends in different organizations. As
an Odyssey Scholar, coordinator Lauren
Flinn says Pfleger had a large impact
even within one month of being in the
“Michelle (Pfleger) was an extremely
resilient individual and grateful for
the opportunity to attend Elon,” Flinn
says. “When we made group expectations,
I clearly remember her saying, ‘Let's not
take this opportunity for granted. We
have been given a gift, so let’s use it.’”
In the week leading up to her death,
Pfleger had torn her ACL, so she missed
her last two Global Experience classes
because the classroom was on the second
floor of Long psychology building, where
there’s no elevator.
She had been e-mailing back and forth
with her professor, Tom Arcaro, talking
about missing class and possibly holding
class somewhere else until she was off
Because she had missed the last two
classes, she had only come to six. But
in that time, Arcaro says, she made it
clear she really thought deeply about the
“I went back through the Blackboard
posts," Arcaro says. “She was one of the
more thoughtful students. She was really
taking to heart what we learned in class."
Now, on the Blackboard website when
students in Arcaro’s Global Experience
course log on, an “In memory" banner is
displayed on the front page. The quote
below it is Pfleger’s first Blackboard
post from the class, talking about the
definition of culture.
“She was very mature and sensitive
and was truly embracing the questions
that I was throwing at them," Arcaro says
of her posts.
But one of the biggest factors that
impacts him, he says, is that in more
than three decades of teaching higher
education, he's never had a student die.
“(There's) almost the literal kind of
parental role where you feel a connection
to and almost a responsibility for the
student," Arcaro says. “So in that sense,
it's been more difficult than I would have
And though Pfleger was on Elon
University's campus for less than a month,
more than 100 students, faculty and staff
gathered to share stories about her life at
a ceremony two days after she died.
The room in Moseley filled with her
roommates and professors, as well as
people who had only briefly met Pfleger.
President Leo Lambert sat on the floor
in a corner of the room, dressed down
from his typical jacket-and-tie attire.
Smith Jackson, vice president and dean of
Student Life, addressed the group, saying
the gathering was informal and people
_ . . , UNDSAYFENDTI Photo Editor
Smith Jackson, vice president and dean of Student Life, addresses students gathered at a
memorial service dedicated to Michelle Pfleger, a freshman who died Sept. 24.
Blood clots in lungs
lead to student’s death
An Elon University freshman died
Sept. 24 from natural causes after
collapsing in front of McMichael science
Building, according to the North Carolina
Medical Examiner Office.
Pulmonary thromboemboli, meaning
blood clots in the lungs, were the cause
of death for Michelle A. Pfleger, said Bill
Fish, an investigator with the medical
Pfleger collapsed while walking to her
9:25 a.m. class, according to an e-mail
sent out to the student body on behalf of
President Leo Lambert.
She was taken to Alamance
Regional Medical Center, where she was
Pfleger was from Great Meadows,
N.J., outside Hackettstown, and lived in
Danieley Center G. She was the daughter
of Joan Cummins and Jack Rudewick of
Hackettstown. She was also an Odyssey
Scholar and recipient of the Mac Mahon
Associate Chaplain Phil Smith and Leon
Williams, director of the Multicultural
Center, are scheduled to work with
Pfleger's Elon 101 class, suitemates and
her fellow Odyssey Scholars.
A gathering of friends was held at 8
p.m. Sept. 26 in Moseley Center 215.
"The loss of a classmate, friend and
student is disconcerting," said Smith
Jackson, vice president and dean of
Student Life in an e-mail. "It reminds us
how precious is the life of each person
in our community. Those who knew
Michelle may benefit from speaking with
a staff memlDer or counselor."
Pfleger's mother welcomes cards,
Jackson's e-mail said, and students
can send them to her at 30-A Barkers
Mill Road, Hackettstown, N.J., 07840.
Students were also able to bring them to
the gathering Sunday.
The funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m.
Thursday, Sept. 30 at the Cochran
Funeral Home in Hackettstown, N.J.,
with the burial to follow at the Request
Union Cemetery in Great Meadows,
N.J., according to a second e-mail
sent out by Jackson,
The family will receive friends for
visitation 4-8 p.m. Sept. 29 at the
Cochran Funeral Home.
Transportation will be provided for
students who wish to attend the
visitation. A bus or van will leave
Moseley Center parking lot 7 a.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 29 and will return
late the following evening.
During the summer before her freshmen year, Pfleger participated in Adventures in Leadership.
would be able to share feelings and stories
Her suitemates stood in a line holding
on to one another at the gathering of
friends service, reading from sheets of
paper, laughing and crying through the
When they finished, there were
periods of silence until other students
stood up to share. Some talked about
brief interactions they’d had with Pfleger;
others talked about whole trips they’d
been on or classes they’d had with her.
“It was very moving,” says Arcaro,
who spoke at the service. “I guess I was
mildly surprised how many people were
there — how somebody down from New
Jersey, here for one month, touched that
In her hometown, there was a
candlelight vigil to remember Pfleger. One
of her best friends from home, Colleen
Healy, says the service brought out about
500 people in Great Meadows, which is a
lot for the small town.
Healy says Pfleger's legacy is being a
natural leader who always kept her cool.
“She was the leader. She always has
been,” Healy says. “She was just a really
And for Cummins, she says one of
the most surreal parts of Pfleger's death
is that she won't be coming to Elon this
weekend. She hadn't originally planned
on coming for parents weekend, which
starts one week from Pfleger's death, but
had changed her mind at the last minute.
“My plans changed, and I thought I'd
go down and surprise her," Cummins
says. “But that’s not going to happen."
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