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OBU athlete Jaleen Watkins to be put to rest on Friday

Society underestimates the impact of death and grieving on college students
Society underestimates the impact of death and grieving on college students
Ouachita Baptist University

Colleges students and the grieving they undergo when a friend and classmate dies have gone largely unrecognized because college students are viewed as young people full of life. Consequently, death is viewed as almost foreign in their daily experiences.

However, at any given time, as many as 30 percent of students of a population of 10,000 or more are grieving the death of a loved one that occurred within the past twelve months. On a college campus of approximately 9000 or more students, between 2,000 to 3,700 are bereaved at any given time.

Right now in Little Rock's secondary and higher education communities, as well as Twitter and Facebook, fans and friends of former OBU student Jaleen Watkins are undergoing the confusion that accompanies the grieving process when a young person dies.

When college students die, not only is the student's immediate family hit hard with grief, but so are students. Students bond primarily in an unconscious effort to overcome anxiety and uncertainty that accompanies the college's preparation process for their lives beyond academia.

Even harder for friends and campus colleagues of Watkins to process is the tragic death of a college athlete whose very life and dedication to winning largely impacts a campus's spirit. Former coaches say Watkins was kind, his friends say he was God-fearing, and the Twitter and Facebook trail that Watkins leaves behind indicate the same.

Watkins, killed in a car wreck last Thursday, will be buried Friday. His funeral or homegoing ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Church of Rock Creek in Little Rock. His viewing is tomorrow night at the church.

Police believe drag racing may be responsible for the accident that killed 21-year-old Jaleen Watkins. Watkins was in the back seat of a Dodge Charger on I-630 in Little Rock, Arkansas when 20-year-old driver Natalia Matthews' car hit another Dodge Charger. Both cars were traveling at a high rate of speed.

Watkins football career at Central Arkansas Christian and Robinson High in Little Rock began his football legacy. Northwest Missouri State University recruited Watkins. He transferred to UCA, then to OBU and was red shirted at OBU last season, his sophomore year, with knee injuries.