DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Students, faculty and friends gathered Monday for a vigil and candlelight ceremony at North Carolina Central University to celebrate the life of Chancellor Debra Saunders-White.
She passed away over the weekend after a long battle with cancer.
“I was heartbroken because she’s such a strong person, you never really realize that now she’s gone,” said Michael Hopkins, Junior, President of the NCCU Student Activities Board.
Hopkins said he and Saunders-White worked together to make NCCU an even better university.
He says she was always there for the students.
“She had open office hours every day that she possibly could and so she always had her door open for students to walk in and meet her and interact with her,” Hopkins said. “She always provided helpful advice as well as encouragement not matter what you needed, she was always there for you.”
Saunders-White was the school’s 11th chancellor.
Flowers were on campus to remember her and the work she’s done in the short time she was at NCCU.
“About three years ago when she came, she came in like a great big ball of fire,” said N.C. State Representative Mickey Michaux.
Michaux and Saunders-White were close friends.
He said despite what was going on in her personal life, she always had an upbeat personality.
“I feel sad in one way, but you have to honor and celebrate the life, because those three years that she was here, she really reinvigorated that institution,” said Michaux.