Fort Valley State University paused this week to honor the life of one of its students tragically killed in a car accident.
On Thursday, Sept. 10, the university held a memorial service to honor the life of Taylor Moore. The 21-year-old senior mass communications student from Powder Springs, Ga., lost her life in a single-car crash on Sept. 3 near the FVSU campus. Moore’s family, the campus community, students and her friends paid tribute to the student whose life affected so many.
Dr. Jessica Bailey, interim president of Fort Valley State University, greeted Moore’s family and shared that as a young girl, she remembered her mother asked her to attend a memorial service of a family friend. Bailey said she declined, saying she didn’t like memorials, but her mother told her it was important.
“The reason why we attend memorial services, she said was the show the family that we care about them,” she said, “It is the reason we are all here: to show Taylor’s family that we care about them, and we care about Taylor.” The president said she didn’t know if it was possible to have prevented the tragedy, but the campus could learn from it.
Moore was a member of the Alpha Beta Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Many of her sorors came out to pay tribute to the student’s life.
Chata Spikes, a media communications instructor and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority member who taught Moore, said was proud to honor the life of the student. “She was not just a student, but a big personality in my class,” Spikes said. “We can think of all the things that Taylor did and said, and we can smile.”
Jessica Hatcher, Miss FVSU 2015-2016, was visibly shaken, reading a poem dedicated to the student, entitled “The Four Candles.”
Hatcher said the four candles represented the four stages of grief. The first candle represented grief, the second candle represented courage and comfort, the third represented unity and the fourth represented light and the special place Moore would always have in the lives of the FVSU family.
Dominique Nichols, an FVSU alum, and pastor of Universal Light Christian Center in Macon, Ga., delivered a benediction about Moore. “Sophocles said it’s the unexamined life that is not worth living,” Nichols said. “It’s tragedies like these that should help us to examine our own lives. When news of the tragedy broke about this heartbreaking tragedy, so many people had fond memories and experiences about Taylor’s life. She was more than just a person that existed, she was someone who lived her life fully.”
Nichols challenged the audience to take this time to examine themselves and what type of impact their having on others. He said every person takes different roads in life, but end up at the same destination.
Moore worked with FVSU’s Peer Educator Program on campus. Jacqueline Caskey-James FVSU’s Student Health and Counseling Services Director, repeated the Serenity Poem by Reinhold Neibuhr. Caskey-James said her tribute to Moore was a special one, since the student served as the queen of the Peer Education program from 2012 until recently. As a token of their appreciation, the administrator presented Moore’s tiara to the student’s mother. Additionally, Andrew Felton, who worked with Caskey James, inducted Moore’s mother, Miriam Knight, and her sister, Olivia, as representatives in the “Be the Sober One” program.
Alecia Johnson, a Gamma Pi Omega Chapter member of Alpha Kappa Alpha and executive assistant from FVSU’s Office of the President, read resolutions from the sorority and FVSU’s National Alumni Association, commemorating the life of the student, and expressing profound sorrow about her loss.
Moore sorority sister, Symone Jackson, said Moore encouraged her to run from Miss FVSU.
“Taylor was there when you needed her, and when you didn’t need her. She was so ambitious, and she pushed me to run from FVSU,” Jackson said. The student said one night, she tried to call Moore. Several days after her death, Jackson finally received Moore’s missed call while driving on the road.
“Even though she has been gone seven days, she’s still with us,” Jackson said.
Tekia Raines, Moore’s best friend, was also visibly upset. “Family, you’re born into that, associations you’re formed into them, school you’re bonded into that, but a friend you choose and they choose you,” Raines said. “I chose you Taylor and you chose me.” She said the two became fast friends because of their inability to keep their hidden thoughts from disrupting other people, nor could they keep quiet because they were both Libras.
Moore had passed the baton to her after he death, “Our paths may have been different, but I have a duty to carry out our mission to change the world.” Raines said when her grandmother died in 2014, Moore had been by her side. After her grandfather passed in July, her friend continue to comfort her, now Moore has passed away.
“I prayed for strength to get me through this,” Raines said. “Taylor, please ask God for me to make my grieving process easier. You will forever be my best friend.”
Mass communications professor, Dr. Andrew Lee, said Moore was kindhearted and hard working.
“She never wanted to be disrespectful, she just wanted to do better,” Lee said. The professor stated the student was decisive, and always wanted to help. The day before, Lee went to her supervisor, Bobby Dickey, to find out how Moore could help them with projects within their department, only the day before the student passed away.
“God had other plans,” Lee said. “May God hold you in the midnight hour when your tears fall. I believe that Taylor will be a shining star watching over us,” she said to Moore’s mother.
Miriam Knight, Moore’s mother, thanked everyone who came out to support her family. She said her daughter didn’t like for her to text because her daughter believed that she was a horrible texter. But the day after Moore’s death, she sent one to her daughter.
It read, “Taylor my darling, my sunshine and princess, you will always be the love of my life.”
After the ceremony, the university held a symbolic candle lighting for the 21-year-old student. Later, there was a symbolic releasing of balloons to honor Moore’s life.