Members of the Utah State community gathered Thursday evening for a memorial in honor of Marissa Garnica, a university student who died on Memorial Day.
Garnica, a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, had returned home to California this summer after completing her second year at USU. She was one of four passengers who died in a head-on collision Monday afternoon.
Garnica’s friend and sorority mentor Ashley Edwards, whom Garnica affectionately referred to as her “big,” organized the memorial. Edwards has fond memories of Garnica, whom she met two years ago.
“We met and were immediately obsessed with each other,” Edwards said. “She was funny, happy and brought joy to any room she walked into.”
Hearing about Garnica’s death was the worst moment of her life, Edwards said.
In a statement, USU Panhellenic Council President Georgia Guyer wrote, “The fraternity and sorority community will forever keep Marissa’s joyous and playful spirit in our memories. Our love and support go out to the members of Alpha Chi Omega and all those who knew Marissa.”
Hallie Fitzsimmons, a friend and sorority sister of Garnica, said she was a happy person with a great sense of humor.
“She was an amazing friend to everyone and was there for me through everything,” Fitzsimmons said. Her favorite memory with Garnica, she said, was ordering grilled cheese and french fries from The Hub every day and eating it together at the Alpha Chi Omega house. Fitzsimmons and Garnica met while rushing sororities as freshmen. Ultimately, they both chose Alpha Chi Omega. Fitzsimmons said she and Garnica had planned to be roommates this fall.
Friend and sorority sister Corryn LaRue said Garnica was one of her favorite Alpha Chi Omega sisters. They met this past year while living in the sorority house.
“She was feisty, sweet and she stood up for herself,” LaRue said. “The one thing I’ll regret is not being able to have more days with her and becoming even closer with her.”
The two bonded over sharing LaRue’s collection of high-heeled shoes.
“Instead of feeling sadness when I wear the heels she’d always borrow, I’ll feel pride,” LaRue said. “Pride that I got to be a part of her life, pride that I get to be part of the same sorority as her, and pride that I, along with everyone else she touched in her lifetime, get to live my life in honor of her ㅡ unapologetically genuine, sassy and with fantastic taste in heels.”
The memorial was held in the International Lounge at the Taggart Student Center. There was an open microphone for people to share thoughts about Garnica, as well as cards to write memories. The cards will be delivered to Garnica’s family at the funeral next week. Attendees also had the opportunity to write memories on balloons and release them at the memorial’s conclusion.
A viewing will be held for Garnica at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Murrieta, California on June 9 at 9:30 a.m., followed by the funeral.