JMU Community Mourns the Loss of Alison Parker

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- Alison Parker was very involved in the James Madison University community. Whether it was tracking down a story for The Breeze, JMU's student paper, or helping report live for JMU Today.

People called her bubbly and sweet.

Ryan Parkhurst, her former advisor at JMU, said that her heart was in news.

"She had this effervescent personality and that just came through," said Parkhurst. "She was a hard-news hound, but morning news is a little softer and lighter and her personality fit really well with that. She was very personable."

He spoke at length with her about her bright future before she graduated from JMU in 2012.

When she joined WDBJ in her hometown market, it seemed that her path to success was getting brighter.

"It was not just a shock cause I knew journalism lost someone who was definitely going to make a mark, and an important mark, but just as important, more important was the type of person she was and she was full of life and full of energy and no one should be snuffed out like that," continued Parkhurst.

Parker was a leader and mentor helping to usher in a new group of journalist including Wayne Epps, now the managing editor of the paper.

"Any story she worked on she was tenacious about it and passionate about whatever she did, broadcast or writing. It was motivating to me as a young journalist to see someone with that passion," said Epps.

Students and faculty called her death a shock to the JMU community.

The general manager of The Breeze, Brad Jenkins, said it is hard to find words to describe their emotions.

"Everyone says that when these things happen and I guess seeing someone that you knew and happen to someone you knew you understand why they say it is senseless," said Jenkins.

"I could use superlatives to describe her, but I do not think there is enough time to explain really how amazing she was," said Parkhurst.

JMU has now created a memorial fund in her name. It's the Alison B. Parker Memorial Fund in SMAD (School of Media Arts & Design) at JMU.