HARRISONBURG – Although it’s been almost a year since Matthew Garber lived in Harrisonburg, Eastern Mennonite University hasn’t forgotten one of its favorite alumni.
Last summer, Garber, then a 22-year-old resident of Elizabethtown, Pa., was swimming with a group of friends in a cove in Costa Rica when he got caught in a riptide and drowned. Garber had just graduated with honors from EMU with a Bachelor of Science in nursing and a minor in Bible and religion.
For weeks, the campus mourned. Garber, school officials said, was a “model student” known for his high marks, strong faith and good sense of humor.
And now, the university wants people to remember Garber for years to come. Last week, EMU announced it has established the Matthew Garber Endowed Scholarship Fund.
So far, EMU has collected about $4,600 in gifts for the fund and plans to raise $50,000, said Kirk Shisler, vice president of advancement. As soon as the fund accrues $10,000 or more, EMU will begin to grant scholarships in Garber’s name.
EMU financial aid and admissions staff will choose the student recipients based on financial need.
“We believe that this permanent fund in Matthew’s memory is a meaningful way to celebrate his legacy of faith in Christ and love of life and others,” Shisler said.
His Life, His Death
At EMU, Garber sang with the Chamber Singers for four years, was involved with the Young People’s Christian Association and served as a community adviser in campus residence halls for three years.
According to the university, Garber was one of 10 graduating seniors honored with the annual “Cords of Distinction” recognition for their “significant and verifiable impact” on the university campus and beyond.
After graduation last spring, Garber flew to Costa Rica, where he was assisting a missionary family and learning Spanish. He had secured a position in the emergency room at Lancaster General Hospital in Pennsylvania at the end of the summer.
He died July 1.
“Faculty, staff and fellow students in EMU’s nursing department remember Matt for his smile, his positive attitude and his infectious sense of humor that he often used to relieve tension during some tense group projects,” said Arlene Wiens, nursing department chair.
Nursing classmate Melissa Sikes described Garber as “wise and mature beyond his years.”
“[Garber] was very immersed in life, involved in everything he touched,” Sikes said.
Garber, who was the son of Todd and Deb Garber of Elizabethtown, Pa., had five siblings.
Check It Out
For more information on Garber’s scholarship, visit EMU.edu/giving/matt-garber.
Contact Heather Bowser at 574-6218 or firstname.lastname@example.org