At the head of the line
Hundreds of MIT community members lined Vassar Street at 2:50 p.m. Monday to observe a moment of silence on the one-week anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. People linked arms to form a human chain that started outside the Stata Center — at a growing memorial marking the site where Officer Sean Collier was shot Thursday night — and stretched toward the MIT Police headquarters, more than a mile away.
Jennifer Earls, a prehealth advisor in MIT’s Global Education and Career Development Center, stood at the start of the line, holding a yearbook open to Collier’s picture. Earls graduated with Collier from Wilmington High School in 2004.
She remembers Collier as a caring and generous friend.
“A good friend of ours lost his leg in a severe car accident this past summer, and Sean donated a significant amount of money to help support their medical bills,” Earls says. “Even then, he just gave without even being asked. He just gave of himself all the time.”
When she heard of Collier’s death on Friday morning, Earls headed to campus from her Cambridge apartment.
“When I got here, there was one flag and a teddy bear, and I tied my Wilmington flag to it,” Earls recalls. “When I came back here [Sunday], it was flooded with flowers and candles and bears and chalk and writings. To see it grow in just a day or two was amazing, and a testament to what he’s done at MIT in such a short amount of time.”
In remembrance of Collier, alumna Charlotte Rocker MBA ’11, SM ’12 left a personal memento at the memorial to him: her Boston Marathon number.
Rocker, who works in Kendall Square, ran the marathon as part of a charity group — finishing the race about seven minutes before two bombs exploded near the finish line. Exhausted from the run, she and her teammates thought a building’s scaffolding had collapsed, only to hear the news later when they made their way to the rest of their group at the Westin Hotel.
“I’ve been so grateful for the police response to everything in the last week, and I guess I wanted a way to say thank you that was a little bit more personal and important to me,” says Rocker, who came to Vassar Street to stand in support with the MIT community.
“I think one of the things that is really special about MIT is how the campus is always open,” Rocker says. “That wouldn’t happen without the MIT Police. And it’s just so awful that the reward for that is to have this horrible tragedy happen. I’ve always been really grateful to everybody on that force, but even more so now.”