Celebrating a beloved daughter, sister, and classmate

The family of Colleen Zirkle, ’16, honors her memory with a scholarship fund

By Stephanie Weaver  |  Photo courtesy of the Zirkle family

Colleen Zirkle fell in love with Loyola during her visit to campus.

Her mother, Liz Zirkle, remembers the day. Loyola, one of the 15 colleges Colleen had applied to, immediately stole Colleen’s heart. After the campus tour, Colleen looked at her mother and said, “This is home.”

Colleen's mother, Liz, and brother, Richard, have made a gift in Colleen's honor.

For three years, Colleen learned and thrived on the Evergreen campus. She was passionate about studying the natural sciences. She served as a resident assistant, worked as a DJ for WLOY, Loyola’s radio station, and participated in Loyola’s Health Outreach Baltimore program.

When Colleen died in a weather-related car accident in Colorado on Dec. 26, 2014, she was 20 years old.

With her sights set on becoming an optometrist, Colleen had long been saving for medical schools. Her mother, along with Colleen’s brother, Richard, decided to make a gift to Loyola with her savings of $50,000 in Colleen’s memory.

The Zirkle family established the Colleen J. Zirkle, ’16, Memorial Scholarship, which starting in the 2016-17 academic year will support students in Loyola College, the University’s school of arts and sciences, who demonstrates financial need.

It was the natural conclusion to make a gift, Mrs. Zirkle said. Colleen, a biology major and chemistry minor, was a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship, without which she would not have been able to attend Loyola.

Colleen was intuitive beyond her years, which is how she knew Loyola was the right choice.

“It was the right fit. She loved the location. She wanted to be in a big city, on a small campus,” Mrs. Zirkle said.

Colleen’s mother hopes future Loyola students will live Colleen’s mantra: Know who you are and be proud when you look in the mirror.

“Colleen knew college was about having a good experience, but at the same time, you have to know who you are and why you are there,” she said.

Colleen’s fellow students recognized this in their classmate. At a vigil held at Loyola in January to celebrate her life, students shared memories of Colleen, describing her as charitable and kind, remembering her contagious laugh, and calling her “the most authentic person I’ve ever met.”

“Colleen understood without judging, Colleen taught without lecturing, and most importantly, Colleen loved without expecting anything in return,” one friend shared.

“She was kindhearted and charitable, and her passion was inspirational,” said a classmate. “Her memory will remain one of incredible beauty, joy, and light.”

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2 Comments

  • Posted by Lynn | January 15, 2016

    What a wonderful gift for Coleen’s mother to make. As a mother of a Loyola graduate I can’t imagine how she handles the grief, but this is such a loving way to keep Coleen active on the Loyola campus!

  • Posted by Ellen | January 27, 2016

    Colleen’s short time at Loyola enriched our daughter’s life beyond measure. She changed us all for better and for good. Her mom and brother live their love everyday. This scholarship is just one example.

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