Arielle Fischer, features editor

This past Monday, Sept. 13, was a grave day for the Berry community. Now, we mourn the loss of a beloved student, sophomore Eden Muina. Muina tragically passed away on Monday morning from injuries sustained in a car accident over the weekend. 

From Fort Oglethorpe, Muina was well-known and loved throughout her community. She graduated as her high school’s valedictorian, and actively participated in academic decathlon, her team winning the state title several times. Muina was renowned for her passionate, dedicated love of animals, especially horses. This love only grew as Muina transitioned to college, where she worked at the college stables and was training to become a part of the Berry College Equestrian Team. Additionally, Muina was a proud and accomplished Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholar. Her volunteer efforts and diligence will forever be cherished in the Lettie Pate community. 

But that is only the beginning of Muina’s incredible, awe-inspiring life and legacy. Starting from a young age, Eden became involved in activism, fundraising and environmental sustainability. 

Photo Courtesy of Brant Sanderlin and Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholars

As an environmental studies major, Muina was incredibly concerned about the environment and took extra efforts to ensure she was living her life as eco-friendly as possible. Muina was often seen wearing vintage clothes and working endless hours in the gardens at Berry College Elementary and Middle School. Not only that, Muina was devoted to the Davies Homeless Shelter gardens, where she worked outside of school to train for her future in farming. 

Brian Campbell, Muina’s work supervisor and mentor, described both her and her work in very high regard. 

“Eden was generous, caring and unique,” Campbell said. “She was different from most Berry College students because she was willing to do whatever it took to learn skills and grow her passion, even off-campus.” 

Campbell explains that Muina’s expressed hope of becoming a sustainable farmer and own a farmstead in which she would produce crops, in addition to inspiring others to turn towards energy-efficient and waste-reduced farming. Additionally, she worked to “save seeds” as part of Berry’s Agricultural Biodiversity Initiative, where rare seeds are collected and conserved to be planted later. She was proud to be a part of a “legacy of preservation,” according to Campbell. 

“A little while ago, Eden was working with me in Berry’s elementary school garden with the third grade,” Campbell said. “She told me, ‘I’m not really into kids, but I’m excited about helping them learn about my passion.’ Eden was willing to go outside her comfort zone and share her passion for natural food, the environment and society’s disconnect from it. She was unique in that she truly wanted to learn as much as she could and share it with others. Eden always lived by that ethic.” 

Campbell continues to say Muina was an “exemplary human,” and that she is a role model to others throughout the Berry community, particularly in the environmental realm. Muina cared not only about other people but about the world and all the species within it. 

Campbell emphasizes that Berry’s environmental sciences and studies department (E.S.S.) is working on how they can continue Muina’s legacy. The department is currently developing several memorial tributes including an E.S.S. award or scholarship in her name, and a memorial garden, possibly outside the elementary school called: “The Garden of Eden.” 

Eden Muina poses with fellow Whitehead scholars during one of their service projects. Photo Courtesy of Meredith Johnson

Meredith Johnson, the coordinator for the Lettie Pate Whitehead scholarship, of which Muina was awarded, reflects on her memory of such a brilliant, kind soul that Berry lost far too soon. 

“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Eden is how sweet, kind and warm she was,” Johnson said. “Eden was always positive and never complained about anything. She took initiative, worked hard and did things because she valued them, not for recognition.” 

Johnson illustrates that Muina was dutifully involved in sustainability, volunteering and fundraising. Muina, being exceedingly empathic and compassionate, knew what positive impact volunteering and fundraisers had on the community, and was willing to be a part of whatever involvement she could. Johnson describes one of Muina’s most astonishing fundraising events. 

“Eden participated in the ‘Trailblazer Challenge,’ for at least two years,” Johnson said. “The ‘Trailblazer Challenge’ directly donates to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, where participants hike 26 miles across Lookout Mountain. Others would make pledges to Make-a-Wish in order to fund the participant’s hike.” 

It was events like these that defined Eden’s character. Johnson highlights that Muina was a very present person, and was fully herself at all times. Johnson believes that Muina’s life and morals will undoubtedly leave a positive legacy not only on the Whitehead scholar’s community but also the entirety of Berry. 

Rette Solomon, junior, was Muina’s roommate and met her through her work at the Equine Center. Solomon provides a first-hand insight into the side of Muina that many might not have gotten the chance to see. 

When prompted to describe Muina in one word, Solomon said: “Compassionate.” 

“She was definitely compassionate,” Solomon said. “One of her best qualities, with that, was her willingness to share. She was always looking to help others and would make meals for us all the time, bringing home things from the community garden to give to us. And it wasn’t just us Eden did this for, she did this for everyone she could.” 

Solomon elaborates that Muina was incredibly fond of volunteer work, specifically at homeless shelters and community gardens. Muina made herself known around these places, working tirelessly whenever she could, doing her part to educate and feed her local community. Solomon remembers riding on horseback with Muina through the back trails of the Equine Center, having the best of times without a care in the world. Solomon describes how happy Muina was in that moment, and how difficult it is to face that memory now, without her. 

Photo Courtesy of Catoosa County Public Schools

“Eden was the epitome of a Berry student,” Solomon said. “She happily worked several jobs at a time, she was actively a part of different groups on campus, but more than anything she was a kind person. She was always looking for ways to serve others. Even in her short time at Berry, I feel like she left a really significant impact on the school and her community.” 

Solomon illustrates that she is grateful for all the time she spent with Muina, no matter how short or insignificant it seemed. Muina constantly made others feel better and worthy, making sure to greet them and ask about their day. 

“One of her core values was making sure others were cared for and had everything they needed to be happy,” Solomon said. 

Jaden Childree, junior, and Whitehead scholar, reminisces on her time with Eden Muina and all the influences she left behind at Berry. 

“I was Eden’s mentor freshman year so we spent lots of one-on-one time together,” Childree said. “She was a very loving person. I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about her because she was almost like a gift. She was everything that you would want in a person.” 

Childree discusses one of her fondest memories of Muina was the first day they met. When they were first introduced, Muina had accidentally left the windows open in her car on a rainy day. Childree claims that she and Muina found the entire situation hilarious and it was an interesting, but memorable way to first meet one another. 

“If I were to describe Eden to someone else I would say she was very godly,” Childree said. “She was very big in her faith, and people could see that almost immediately. Eden always spoke about her love for God and her love for other people. She truly believed that nature brought her closer to God and his work on Earth.” 

Childree admits she used to think of Muina as a quiet, reserved person, but after her passing and attending the memorial service, she saw that Muina had impacted many more people than she realized. In particular, Childree observed how much Muina had impacted the lives of the Equestrian Team and workers, as well as the other Lettie Pate scholars. Childree acknowledges that Muina left a mark on Berry that people weren’t even aware of. 

Photo Courtesy of Brant Sanderlin and Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholars

“Eden always put her love for nature and other people above anything else she did,” Childree said. “Anyone and everyone who knew her saw how giving she was. I remember a sweet story when she was late for a hike because she was rescuing baby squirrels on the side of the road.” 

Childree continues that Muina was never shy to share her beliefs and help others share theirs. Even more so, Childree said that Munia was a friend to everyone no matter who they were or what background they came from. Muina wholeheartedly embodied the heart and soul of a Lettie Pate Whitehead scholar to her fullest extent. 

“I think Eden will have a lasting impact on Berry College because we all looked to her as a friend and a role model,” Childree said. “With her passing, it’s going to make us try to uphold the values she stood for, be more like her and appreciate the world God gave us.” 

Eden Muina’s passing was a shock and a tragedy to us all. But in a time of darkness, Muina’s true brilliance shines radiantly. Muina will forever be remembered as a bright, unique and loving soul. Eden Muina’s positive impact on the Berry community will stay for many years to come, and the influence she had on others lives will remain with them always. Muina’s memory will be cherished forever, as will the incredible impact she had on Berry College. 

Posted by Campus Carrier

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