On Saturday, September 26, the Briar Cliff University community celebrated the life of Andrea Norton, who suddenly passed away in 2019. The University made a pilgrimage to share the special areas on campus dedicated to Norton.
“A pilgrimage is a journey to sacred place,” says Sr. Pat Doody, Vice President of Mission and Leadership. “Today, we will spend time in three holy places on our campus. They are holy and sacred because they remember and honor the life of a beloved daughter, an excellent student, and a devoted friend.”
In the front of Noonan Hall, a Basswood tree has been planted and dedicated in Norton’s memory, reminding us of her love for trees and all of nature. Then, traveling to the outdoor classroom, which provides students a new space to learn and admire the nature surrounding Briar Cliff. Lastly, stopping at the rock at the edge of the Prairie that will soon be engraved: A courageous light, Andrea Norton 1998-2019, I John 4:4, Job 12:8.
At each place, the group paused to hear Norton’s own words and to pray. Family and friends were invited to place a pebble on the boulder as a way of symbolizing their loving connection to Norton.
Her parents, Tamara and Mark Norton also received a posthumous degree and a San Damiano Cross this past Sunday at Briar Cliff’s Commencement Ceremony, honoring the class of 2020.
“Before I invite the first set of students to come forward, I would like to recognize a student who cannot be with us today,” said Dr. Todd Knealing, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs and Master of Ceremonies. “In the spring of 2019, we lost a classmate and we lost a friend. I ask everyone for a moment of silence for Andrea Norton.” Accompanied by a standing ovation, Norton’s parents accepted the recognition on behalf of their daughter.
Double majoring in environmental science and biology and a volleyball player, Andrea Norton was a positive teammate, role model, and Briar Cliff advocate. Andrea embodied BCU’s values in everything she did. She exuded compassion, a love for the environment, and an openness to everyone she met in the classroom, on the court, and everywhere she went. She made a huge impact on the Briar Cliff community and is greatly missed.