April 22, 2014

University Remembers a “Always Smiling” Colleague

Alexandria Shelton was found in a ditch early Sunday morning, and Grambling State University students held a memorial vigil to make sure she is not forgotten

GSU Students gather in rememberance of fellow student Alexandria Shelton.
GSU Students gather in rememberance of fellow
student Alexandria Shelton.

Grambling State University Media Bureau

Grambling, LA – Students gathered to celebrate the life of Alexandria Shelton, 21, a senior majoring in criminal justice at Grambling State University.

As friends and family fought back tears, a few shared memories of Shelton. “I keep telling myself the good things and the positive memories to keep Alex with me… She was my strength when I was weak,” said Keithlyn James, 22, a criminal justice major.

One of Shelton’s sisters, Victoria Alex, addressed the Gramblinite crowd outside of the university bookstore, thanking students for pulling together for her sister and their family. When asked how he would like his sister to be remembered, one of her brothers, Justin Alex, said “My sister was L.O.P., the life of the party… remember her smile.”

A large photograph of Shelton had to be removed and put aside when some family members broke down in grief, unable to sit near a podium being used nearby. After the family composed themselves, GSU President Frank G. Pogue recalled Shelton’s legacy saying “This lady had class” and asked students to “keep celebrating her life.”

Ninfa Saavedra, a GSU student ambassador who started with the group the same time as Shelton, spoke on behalf of the ambassadors group, saying they became fast friends and more like student ambassador family. “As a part of our ambassador family Alex’s sudden death has taken us all by shock,” she said. “We had to show we cared.”

About 50 black and gold balloons were released just in front of a large electronic board above the staging area where university students, family and friends spoke, in an area students call The Yard. Grambling alumni Kimberly Monroe, 25, of Lake Charles, La. sang Rev. Paul Johnson’s “I Won’t Complain” as six Shelton family members joined students, faculty and others to release the balloons. La’Tigre Stokes and Darianna Meyers, a couple of Shelton’s friends, could barely stand as grief overwhelmed them. Several administration and student Gramblinites surrounded the family to uplift them as they shed tears.

Reller Jones, a juvenile justice and delinquency professor, recalled that Shelton was the first student to greet her when she arrived in her first class at Grambling State.  “As long as we keep love, faith, hope and charity we will all meet Alex again,” said Jones.

Shelton, an honors student with a 3.5 GPA, was planning to receive her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice on May 9. Pogue said the university is filling out paperwork to present her family with Shelton’s  degree posthumously.

As the university’s World Famed Tiger Marching Band played the alma mater, students and others sang  the song, raising their pointer fingers high. The alma mater is a somewhat solemn song, but the band was asked to play a couple of upbeat tunes, too. The crowd laughed, smiled and danced when the band played the university fight song and “Neck,” a funk song that causes students to really get down.

“Alex would not want us to linger… she would want us to go to class, be that lawyer, doctor, or voice of change in the world,” said Reginald Mask, 21, a criminal justice major.

Shelton is survived by her parents Lucretia Alex and Norville Shelton; three sisters, Tamika Joseph, Valerie Alex and Victoria Alex, and two brothers, Justin Alex and Phillip Vaughn. All are from Lafayette.

A visitation will be held Tuesday (April 22) at Melancon Funeral Home from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. with an 11:30 a.m. rosary in Carencro, La. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 1 p.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Lafayette, La.

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