A dark blue banner hangs above the memorial site honoring the six victims of last week’s pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University's campus on Southwest Eighth Street.
A message in white reads, “Together the healing begins.”
That was the prevailing sentiment felt on campus Wednesday when the FIU community held its main vigil. Hundreds of students, faculty and staff gathered at the university center to hear remarks from school administrators and musical performances.
FIU President Mark Rosenberg and Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez tried to uplift the community, expressing the theme of togetherness. The collapsed bridge was meant to link the city of Sweetwater with FIU's Modesto A. Maidique Campus.
"Our shock is deep. Our mourning is intense." Rosenberg says. "This is a community that rises time and again."
Sofia Rincon and Michaela Reyes then performed "Stay" by Rihanna to honor the memory of their close friend Alexa Duran, an 18-year-old student who was killed in the bridge collapse.
Brandon Aquino, a senior at FIU and a member of Student Government, which organized the event, says the vigil aimed to unite the more than 50,000 students attending FIU.
"We wanted to show that we're all here together as Panthers," he says.
After the 30-minute vigil, thousands walked to a memorial near the bridge site on Southwest Eighth Street and 109th Avenue. Many fraternity and sorority students left flowers to honor Duran, who was involved with Greek life.
Still, the walk drew many students like Isabel Heynianck who weren't close to any of the victims.
"It’s important we try to remember what happens now so that we may better reflect on what to do in the future to prevent more needless tragedies like this from happening," she says.
A prayer service will be held Thursday at 1:47 p.m. - the exact time of the collapse - one block from the bridge site.