MEDFORD — Just a few steps from a garden named for Krystle Campbell, a Boston Marathon bombing victim, two students from the University of Massachusetts Boston on Saturday received scholarships in her honor.
Leona Smith of Revere and Eden Blakeley of Dorchester each were presented with $5,000 scholarships to pursue degrees at the college, following in Campbell’s footsteps.
Campbell, 29, was one of three people killed at the finish line in 2013.
Since then, the Krystle Campbell Memorial Scholarship Fund has annually awarded scholarships for young women to attend UMass Boston, where she studied sociology.
“It’s fitting to be here in Krystle’s hometown, right next door to her peace garden,”
UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley said during a luncheon at the Medford Senior Center. “Today, you’re going to see two shining examples of what Krystle’s legacy continues to be.”
The scholarships were presented during a ceremony attended by about 50 people, including Campbell’s father, William, Medford city officials, and members of a team that will run in the marathon on April 17 to raise money for the scholarship fund.
The ceremony also included a moment of silence in the Krystle Campbell Peace Garden, dedicated last September outside the senior center.
The garden also pays tribute to Martin Richard and Lingzi Lu, who were also killed at the finish line, and Sean Collier, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer killed later that week by the suspects.
Guests sat at black tables brightened with sunflower centerpieces, reminders of Krystle’s positive attitude.
Accepting their scholarships, Smith and Blakeley spoke of the challenges they faced going to school and also working full-time. Both are first-generation college students, who shared the painful experience of losing their mothers as teenagers.
Smith, 21, said she desires to help girls and young women pursue education, and become leaders in business and the community.
“I’m honored to receive it,” Smith, who will graduate from UMass Boston in December, said in an interview. “We come from the same background.”
Blakeley, a 30-year-old junior, said she had dropped out of high school after her mother died in a car crash when she was 15. She later earned a GED and began taking college classes while working.
Now she’s just a year away from completing her degree, a feat she never imagined possible as a teenager.
“Keeping up with work and school full-time was very challenging, but this scholarship will take a load off my shoulders,” she said.
The Campbell scholarship fund awards $5,000 scholarships to two female students studying business at UMass.
The fund has $680,000 saved up toward its $1 million goal, primarily by fund-raising events, including marathon team runners.
Before the luncheon, seven runners of the 10-member team gathered outside Medford City Hall, dressed in long-sleeve yellow shirts and bright blue tank tops that bore Campbell’s name. They did a 1-mile run through Medford, passing by the Campbell family home.
For those who loved Campbell, the day was a time to celebrate her life and to meet the next women who will benefit from her legacy.
“My heart is so full with so many good things. I’m really so proud,” her father, William Campbell, said shortly after receiving a hug from each runner. “I miss her so much.”