College vows to 'never forget' Caroline Cody

The serene setting of the Baughman Meditation Center provided the perfect backdrop for the members of the UF College of Medicine community to take a break from

Dr. William Cody and Betty Cody, speak during the College of Medicine memorial marking the 10th anniversary of their daughter, Caroline's death. Photo by Priscilla Santos

their hectic schedules to remember Caroline Cody, who was tragically killed in 2000 during her first year of medical school.

After Cody’s funeral 10 years ago, deans from the COM, including then-senior associate dean for educational affairs, Dr. Robert Watson, vowed to her parents, Dr. William and Betty Cody, that the college would never forget their daughter.

“We will remember Caroline always and the Codys will be a member of our College of Medicine family forever,” Watson said at Thursday’s memorial marking the 10th anniversary of Cody’s death.

The college has kept her memory alive over the last decade through the Caroline Annette Cody Memorial Scholarship, which was established by the class of 2000 and also supported through contributions from the College of Medicine, Shands HealthCare and others. During Thursday’s memorial, William Cody announced he and his family will donate $10,000 to the college to continue the fund in Caroline’s name.

“The pain from our loss is still there,” Cody told those in attendance, “but what you have done for my family has been medicine to us.”

The scholarship is awarded to a rising fourth-year student who demonstrates the personal characteristics and commitment to community service exemplified by Caroline. This year’s award recipient is Parin Chheda, from the class of 2011, who attended the memorial.

“Now that I know more about Caroline, I am so honored to have been chosen for her award,” Chheda said. “I certainly have big shoes to fill.”

Leaders, past and present, from the COM joined Caroline's family, friends, classmates and professors at the Baughman Meditation Center for a memorial service May 13. Photo by Priscilla Santos

Memories of Caroline flowed easily during the memorial tribute, which was hosted by the COM offices of Minority Affairs and Student Counseling and Development. Leaders of the college – both past and present – joined Caroline’s family, friends, former classmates and professors in wearing orange ribbons and carrying special candles.

Orange was one of Caroline’s favorite colors and more than one speaker remarked on the memory of the bright orange backpack she carried daily.

“We wear an orange ribbon to commemorate a friend who loved orange and a colleague we dearly miss,” said Michele Lossius, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at UF and a member of the class of 2003.

Michael L. Good, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine, assured the Cody family that Caroline’s spirit lives in the halls and the energy of the college.

“I am inspired by your active participation in our college,” Good said. “Your scholarship touches a new medical student every year and pushes him or her to work harder, to become the passionate physician Caroline would have become.

The COM Office of Student Counseling and Development presented candles to those in attendance and asked that they "keep Caroline's light burning."

“I thank you for nurturing her legacy at the College of Medicine,” he told her parents.

Philip M. Scherer, of the class of 2010, played the violin beautifully during the ceremony and Natalie Williams sang Caroline’s favorite hymn, “This Little Light of Mine,” offering time for reflection on a life taken too soon.

“When you lose a child you never get over it,” William Cody said to end the memorial. “But what you are doing to keep her memory alive is part of our healing process.”

“We have been your patient,” he continued. “And we thank you for your kindness and for helping us heal.”