Memorial plaque in a favourite study space celebrates late York student’s legacy
“If it’s meant to be, it will happen.” These words were a guiding life principle for Emerson Vincent Sauder, a third-year mathematics student who passed away on April 20, 2016, after battling Ewing’s sarcoma.
Now, the quote and Emerson’s name are immortalized on a plaque, celebrated at a dedication ceremony in the Learning Commons Collaboratory on Jan. 25, by Sauder’s friends and family, as well as University faculty and staff.
Emerson’s parents, Rosanna Sansalone-Sauder and Steve Guy Sauder, and stepfather, Denis Trottier, gifted the plaque, which hangs above a booth that held special significance to Emerson and his friends.
“The booth became a hub for them as a place to hang out and study,” said Sauder. “Emerson loved York, and that booth was where he found community on campus. We wanted to place something there to signify its importance to Emerson’s memory and his friends.”
Located on the second floor of the Scott Library, the Collaboratory is a study area designed for group work and discussion.
“As the name suggests, the Collaboratory is tailored to students like Emerson who are academically and socially engaged because its layout encourages team-building and working together,” said Joy Kirchner, university librarian. “Many of the more than 10,000 students who enter Scott Library every day will be able to honour Emerson when they see his commemorative plaque.”
The Sauder family also established the Emerson Vincent Sauder Memorial Award, an endowed scholarship for a student demonstrating financial need and outstanding achievement in mathematics.
“When Emerson was sick, he told me that he really wanted to help others,” said Sansalone-Sauder. “This scholarship allows him to help other students through his legacy of fairness and goodness towards others.”
Third-year statistics student Ling Lin feels Emerson’s legacy first-hand as the inaugural recipient of the scholarship. “The award is a big inspiration to me, and enriches both my life and Emerson’s memory,” she said.
Prof. Paul Szeptycki, chair, and Ada Chan, undergraduate program director, of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics spoke about Emerson’s time as a student and his commitment to mathematics. Emerson’s family and friends also gathered around the booth to share memories.
“Emerson really had a head for math, and he was always ready with the answer,” said fourth-year mathematics student Angelika Tetera, one of Emerson’s close friends. “The plaque and the scholarship will remind us to study hard to help his memory live on. He touched so many lives. Even after we graduate, new students will be able to discover his legacy.”