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Collier’s legacy lives on with scholarship at Salem State

On the softball team at Medford High School, Dana Williams played in tournaments honoring Krystle Campbell, a former Mustangs’ player who was killed in the Boston Marathon bombings five years ago.

“Krystle Campbell was really significant in our city,” said Williams, 19. “Our team played in a mini series of games in memory of her and everybody else who was killed in the Boston bombings.”

Now, as a student at Salem State University, Williams has forged yet another intangible link to a victim of the terror attack: slain MIT police officer Sean Collier. She’s the first recipient of the Sean A. Collier Memorial Scholarship at Salem State, where she is a sophomore studying criminal justice. Collier received a degree in criminal justice from Salem State with honors in 2009.

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“I was really surprised,” Williams said of winning the $1,000 scholarship prize.

Collier, 27, was fatally shot on April 18, 2013, by the Marathon bombing suspects, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, as he sat in his police cruiser on the MIT campus. Campbell, 29, was killed in the explosions at the Marathon finish line three days earlier.

Williams now feels “that I’m sort of connected with [these] two people,” who are still deeply loved and mourned.

In the five years since Collier’s death, the scholarship fund set up in his memory has raised more than $25,000, according to Salem State. The fund will award a $1,000 scholarship each year to a student majoring in criminal justice. As long as a recipient keeps their grades up, the scholarship will be renewed annually for them, the university said.

Williams received the scholarship at the criminal justice department’s awards banquet on April 19. Nearly a decade after he graduated, Collier is still remembered as a role model. Professors talk of “how significant he was, both in the criminal justice department and around campus,” Williams said.

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She is inspired by Collier’s love for community service. She volunteers at the Valley Collaborative, a special needs high school in Billerica. “It’s nice to be able to do any type of volunteer work where I’m helping people,” she said. Williams, who would like to work in witness protection, hopes one day to emulate Collier’s commitment to serving others.

“I just hope I can have as much of an impact on people in my career as he did,” she said.


Alana Levene can be reached at alana.levene@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alanalevene.