Hailey Bacchus graduated from Oglethorpe University in May of 2021 with a degree in politics after four years of active leadership and advocacy on campus. Her life was tragically cut short in her first year of law school when she passed away in December 2021 from complications of COVID-19.
A native of Orlando, Fla., Hailey made a profound impact on peers and faculty alike at Oglethorpe, and the Collegiate 100 and 100 Black Men of Atlanta chose to honor her memory with a bench and memorial plaque outside the Conant Performing Arts Center on the OU campus.
“Hailey will long be remembered at Oglethorpe as a gifted student and a passionate advocate,” said Dr. Kathryn McClymond, Oglethorpe’s provost. “We are grateful for having been her college home for four years.”
The memorial bench was unveiled in a special ceremony Feb. 25 featuring several guest speakers who described Hailey’s talents, personality, faith and impact on the OU community. Hailey helped to found the Oglethorpe Chapter of the Collegiate 100 which provides mentorship and servant leadership to inspire youth and uplift communities.
Among those who provided personal reflections at the unveiling ceremony were Sean Kang, Ivi Wicks, Gerald Chichester, Fred Parham, and faculty member Dr. Kendra King Momon. David Swillum, also a class of ’21 graduate and a former president of the Collegiate 100 Oglethorpe chapter, shared his experience with Hailey during their time at Oglethorpe and shortly after graduation.
“My dear friend Hailey was everything you’d want in a friend. Someone who’s always checking in, holding you accountable, and loving you with actions,” said Swillum, currently a Student Athlete Development Graduate Assistant at Texas Christian University. “After graduating together and her continued success through law school, she was someone who was always motivating me to keep pushing onwards. Most of all, I am glad God gave me the time with her that He did and all the blessings that came along with her.”
Those interested in contributing to Oglethorpe in Hailey’s memory can do so through the online form at support.oglethorpe.edu/give, calling 404-364-8338, or mailing a financial gift to Oglethorpe University, Office of Advancement, 4484 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30319.