As Ohio State prepared to award more than 11,000 diplomas to the graduating class of 2015 at the Spring Commencement ceremony, a smaller, intimate event was held in memory and celebration of an OSU student who died earlier this year.
A private ceremony was held on Thursday in Scott Laboratory in honor of Stephanie Fibelkorn, a third-year in mechanical engineering who was killed in a vehicular crash that occurred in downtown Columbus in December. At the ceremony, Fibelkorn’s parents were presented with her posthumous degree.
“The ceremony itself was beautiful. OSU did a fantastic job. They went above and beyond as always,” said Stephen Fibelkorn, Stephanie’s father. “It is hard to describe. I couldn’t put it any other way than perfect: the setting, the people that were there, the words they spoke, the things they knew about her, having the deans who worked with her and knew her.”
Also in attendance were the professors who had worked with Stephanie Fibelkorn during her time at OSU.
“We were not expecting to have everyone there that they did. So many people showed up who knew Stephanie and cared about her,” Stephen Fibelkorn said, adding that after the ceremony, he and his wife, Mary, were able to tour the laboratory space where Stephanie worked while at OSU.
“It was just phenomenal,” he said.
Dan Mendelsohn, an associate professor and associate chair in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and chair of the Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Studies Committee, coordinated the event.
Mendlesohn said in an email he began putting together the ceremony in February, after Stephanie’s posthumous degree, a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, was approved by the College of Engineering.
The degree was framed and presented to Fibelkorn’s parents at the ceremony, an action that Stephen Fibelkorn said “goes a step above and beyond and that was so appreciated.”
Stephen Fibelkorn said he and Stephanie’s family are grateful for the support they have received from the university, and added that they plan to continue to help Stephanie’s legacy live on through a memorial scholarship in her name.
The Stephanie Fibelkorn Memorial Scholarship, a scholarship that aims to support women interested in attending college for math or engineering, has currently raised more than $15,500 of its $18,000 goal, according to its Go Fund Me page. This amount has been raised by 176 people in the past four months, the page said.
In addition to the scholarship, Stephen Fibelkorn said the family also plans to open a non-profit organization that would allow underprivileged youth to travel. He said this idea came from Stephanie’s desire to help others experience the world.
“Stephanie was also a huge fan of believing not only in growing and expanding your capabilities, but expanding your mind in different ways. So when we started traveling, she realized… how much more the world had to offer than just what is limited here,” Stephen Fibelkorn said. “As we would get to doing more travel, she would always insist on being able to bring friends with her from Columbus that had never left Columbus, so (they could) see that the world was so much bigger and the possibilities were so endless.”
Stephen Fibelkorn said he thinks the posthumous degree awarded by the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering acknowledges all that Stephanie was able to achieve at OSU.
“I think that for us, it was very significant that we felt like she accomplished what she set out to do and the university recognized that in awarding her the degree,” he said.