Friends and family of Paige Hicks '11 gathered in Manning Chapel on Thursday night to share in a service of thanksgiving for the life of a beloved member of the Brown community.
Hicks, who was killed July 20 during a cross-country trip for the charitable organization Bike and Build, was remembered by those who knew her as an exuberant, loving person who could not help but leave a mark on everyone she met.
After a musical performance of The Beatles' "Yesterday" by Christiana Stephenson '11, Chaplain of the University Janet Cooper Nelson addressed the overflowing chapel. Cooper Nelson said Hicks had tied together the lives of the members of the audience with a "thread I would be hard-pressed to label."
Referring to a magical device used to process thoughts and memories in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," a favorite book of Hicks', Nelson invited the audience to think of the service as a sort of Pensieve, "a place where we can put all our feelings and thoughts and let them swirl."
Those feelings and thoughts took the form of remembrances, musical and spoken word performances and a slideshow set to some of Hicks' favorite music as her professors, roommates, teammates, friends and family came together to celebrate her life.
Associate Director of Residential Life Natalie Basil described Hicks, who was a Women Peer Counselor, as "approachable, compassionate, helpful and a team player," someone who was "not just a good listener, but a doer" and "loved by all for her honesty and her genuine, fun-loving personality."
Two of Hicks' co-WPCs, Akinyi Shapiro '11 and Amina Sheikh '11, performed original spoken-word pieces addressed to Hicks, in which they remembered their experiences as WPCs with Hicks and celebrated the strength and warmth Hicks brought to the position.
Matt Vitorla '11, who spent a semester abroad in Barcelona in the fall of 2009 with Hicks, described her as a "muse." "She brought out the ideas, music, beauty and light in all of us," he said.
Katie Silverstein '11 and Emmy Liss '11 also remembered their time in Barcelona with Hicks, describing her as fun-loving and adventurous, someone who loved dance parties, music, chocolate bars and running — and sharing those loves with her friends.
"From Paige, I learned how many barriers are just boundaries we set for ourselves … and how to push through," Silverstein said.
"She gave everything, whether it was a stolen pair of sunglasses or a piece of her heart," said Liss, who is a deputy managing editor for The Herald.
Michelle Levinson '11 and Julia Ellis-Kahana '13, Hicks' teammates from the women's club frisbee team, Disco Inferno, emphasized her kindness, determination and passion. Levinson shared one of the team's favorite quotes — Lady Gaga's declaration, "I'm just trying to change the world, one sequin at a time."
Levinson said the quote fit both Hicks' love of flashy clothes and her infectious personality, referring to "the sequins of words and actions (which) have touched so many people."
"She taught me how to be fearless," Ellis-Kahana said.
The slideshow of pictures and videos of Hicks was also shown at the service, accompanied by a soundtrack that included Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" and a biology-themed rap written by Hicks herself entitled "Let's Talk About Cells, Baby." The presentation, arranged by Casie Horgan '11 and Serin Seckin '11, showed Hicks singing, dancing and laughing with her friends.
Following the slideshow, Fred and Mallory Hicks, Paige Hicks' father and one of her older sisters, thanked the audience for their memories and added their own. Mallory Hicks recalled a day of fun the two shared in New York on Paige Hicks' 21st birthday, and her father led the chapel in singing "F.U.N.," a song from SpongeBob SquarePants celebrating time spent with friends.
Cooper Nelson then invited the audience out onto the Quiet Green, where a dogwood tree has been planted in Hicks' memory. "We wanted something that would flower on," Cooper Nelson said. The tree will eventually feature a plaque to Hicks, with a quote from Albus Dumbledore in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone": "After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure."
Hicks' friends and family circled the young tree while the Brown Band played their rendition of "Bad Romance." By candlelight, members of the circle read aloud remembrances and notes to Hicks that had been written during the service. Many notes mentioned cherished memories of Hicks. One simply read, "You are an infectious spirit."
In her remembrance, Basil read a quote from Hicks' application to be a Residential Peer Leader, in which Hicks wrote, "My greatest triumph is knowing I have helped someone succeed." The testimonies of the many people she touched with her spirit and vivacity made Hicks' triumph clear.