Under cloudy, rainless, gray skies, loving members of the Whittier College community gathered to celebrate, reminisce, and mourn in front of the visage of Miss Margo Latif, who passed away last year on Feb. 11.
Margo Latif was a sophomore and Metaphonian active. Herbig, Jazmin Ringgold, described her as “caring, kind-hearted, funny, and outgoing,” in an interview with the Quaker Campus last year. “Tell her you got a C on a test and she would make you feel like you got an A+,” Ringgold reminisced.
A group of more than 150 students, faculty, and staff circled the benches in front of Hoover Hall this past Saturday morning to remember Latif. An image of the smiling student stood on the leftmost bench. Many society members and pledges stood in solidarity with the Metaphonians who hosted the event.
Those gathered were invited to stand before the bench to speak and share their memories with the crowd, which ranged from light-hearted, silly moments with Latif to emotional eulogies.
The memorial began at 11:30 a.m. with a reading of portions of the poem “Death is Nothing At All” by Henry Scott Holland from junior and Metaphonian active Angelica Santiago, who organized the event. Latif was one of Santiago’s pledge sisters and her dear friend. The poem set the tone for the memorial within its lines, “Wear no forced sorrow; laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together; play, smile, think of me.”
Santiago also formally presented a plaque below the bench where Latif’s picture was placed, which faces the Hawaiian Islands in honor of Latif’s love for home.
In continuity with honoring Latif in all her Hawaiian pride, the Mets invited those who attended the event to make multi-colored leis and craft notes, which were written on paper and bound with beads and string. While students placed their leis and messages on the bench, classic songs such as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Live a Little” by Hawaiian Style Band played.
Junior Leimana Hassett faced Margo’s photo while performing a hula to the somber, steady tone of Fenua’s Tahitian ballad “A Horoa Mai.” The Penns also sang, facing Latif’s image, kneeling on one knee, while singing their own version of “You Are My Sunshine.”
That morning, the Mets painted the Rock their bright shade of blue and wrote Latif’s famous sign-off, “Have a beautiful day.” Finally, the Metaphonians encircled her bench and sang their creed to end the remembrance.
In moving forward from year to year, a line from the poem Santiago previously read comes to mind: “Whatever we were to each other, we still are … speak to me in the easy way which you always used.” To echo the poem, why should Latif be out of mind because she is out of sight? Santiago finished her speech by reminding us all, in a similar way, to remember Margo fondly with each passing day: “Every time you pass this bench, I encourage you all to think of her, to sit there and honor her for the beautiful soul that she was and ‘Have a beautiful day.’”