Ayana McAllister was a student here at Saint Augustine’s University with a bright future ahead of her. Sadly, her life was taken too soon after being shot and killed during a music video filming.
McAllister, 18, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, had returned home for spring break and, like most college students, she was excited to be home and even invited a fellow SAU student to join her during the break. Unfortunately, McAllister became an innocent bystander to gun violence while watching the filming. Someone pulled out a gun and began shooting.
“My daughter was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time,” said her father, Anthony McAllister, in an interview on WRAL TV.
Since her death, the SAU community of students, faculty, and staff members have memorialized Ayana McAllister a fallen angel. Her father is an alumni of SAU, class of ’88. McAllister also left behind her mother Tyreese and her sister Ndaja, who is also a student at SAU, class of ’20.
Saint Augustine’s University held a vigil on Thursday, March 30, at7 pm in remembrance of her life. The celebration of life took place in SAU’s Emery Gymnasium. It included tributes from several speakers and was followed by a candle lighting as the service moved outside to the quad area in the center of the campus.
Many students are still at a loss for words when it comes to describing how they are affected by the departure of a classmate and, for many, a friend. McAllister was a member of the of the Modeling Club as well as being known as a very bright and talented student.
McAllister’s parents and students alike were stunned and saddened by the tragedy. Ernest Price, a freshman biology major from Washington, DC., was a friend of McAllister’s and recalled a quote that she lived by: “You have to stay solid, even when everybody else folds on you.” As Price described his friend, he spoke as if talking to her: “You lived by this quote, you breathed the quote. …My sister for life, may you rest in peace my Yonna Kardashian,” Price added, using her nickname.
Another student, Noel McNeil, a freshman psychology major, said she knew McAllister from kindergarten. “She was always a beautiful, bright young lady. She was always full of life and had a bright future. We lost contact throughout the year but we kind of talked here at SAU.”
McNeil paused briefly to collect her emotions. “We were cool and I miss her,” she added.
McAllister was laid to rest in her hometown of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, on March 27 after a funeral at Galilee Baptist Church. A friend of McAllister’s started a GoFundMe account for a scholarship fund in the remembrance of her legacy. The parents hope, with the funds, to establish a scholarship in support of a rising college freshman each year studying criminal justice. Plans call for a reward recipient to be announced each year in March.
Members of the McAllister family have said in public statements that they will use the loss to speak out against violence and ways in which we prevent similar tragedies.
SAU President Everett Ward announced Thursday that a scholarship will be established in McAllister’s name for criminal justice majors.
Parts the vigil held here at SAU can be viewed at this link: www.wral.com/news/local/video/16616555/
To contribute to the GoFundMe account associated with the scholarship, visit this link: www.gofundme.com/3jqw4m8
— Jazmin Powell