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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Student memorialized with scholarship: Friends band together to create a crowdsourced memorial scholarship

Emily Lang (left) and Emma Place died tragically in a hiking accident in August 2017. // Photo Courtesy of Laura Place

By Emily Erskine

In August 2017, two best friends Emily Lang and Emma Place passed away in a tragic hiking accident on Mount Hood. Place was a student at Gonzaga and Lang a student at Western. In memory of the accident, and in honor of the two friends, Emma’s sister Laura Place and seven other Western students are working to create a scholarship for women enrolled in the Honors Program who are passionate about the outdoors and community service, like Emily.

The scholarship is to be named the Emily Lang Memorial Scholarship to honor the fellow Viking. The goal is to crowdsource around $25,000 through Viking Funder to continuously accrue interest to be disbursed to multiple students in need. The scholarship has been in the works since fall 2017. Conflicting schedules delayed it from being seriously sorted out until fall 2018.

After graduating high school at St. Mary’s Academy in Portland in 2016, Lang started college at Western that fall with the aspiration to join the Peace Corps after graduating. She was also enrolled in the Honors program and was an active participant in academics and the community.

Lang made many close friendships in her year at Western, primarily with the people she met in the Honors Program while living in Edens Hall.

“Emily was one of the most selfless and determined people I’ve ever met,” her close friend Serena Riley said. “She was so incredibly motivated and made me just a better person overall. I felt like I’ve known her my whole life. We spent every waking moment together freshman year [of college].”

During her time at Western, Lang was actively involved in Girls on the Run, a nonprofit that inspires young girls to get out and get active. She was a volunteer there for several years and would spend time running with and encouraging middle school-aged girls. Place said if the scholarship exceeds funding expectations, they plan to donate a portion to Girls on the Run.

The students starting the scholarship along with Place are Megan McCullough, Alice Michaelson, Anamika Paulay, Bella Seppi, Delaney Adams, Rachel Rothberg and Serena Riley, all Honors students who were close with Lang.

According to Riley, the women would all often ski and spend time together. Juniors Riley, Rothberg and Paulay still live together in a house they were set to share with Lang.

Place says that the goal is to get the final touches on the donation page ready by mid-December, which will then allow anyone in the public to start donating toward the scholarship.

“We really want to emphasize that the scholarship was started by students, and it’s not just the school trying to get money,” Place said. “I think it’s important to know that we’re all starting it on behalf of her parents. Because it’s easier for us to do it here than for them, remotely.”

Lang’s parents are on board with the scholarship and will be helping submit photos and sharing the information, Place said

“I don’t want them [Lang’s parents] to have to stress out about it at all,” Place said. “I just want it to be something that they can appreciate.”

*This story was edited on Nov. 20 to correct Megan McCullough’s name


  1. Such a wonderful tribute to a very special person. Emily is missed but never far from our family’s thoughts.
    Thank you for being so sweet in remembering a truly one in a million girl. She was blessed with amazing friends.
    Sincerely, Christopher Hickey and Family.


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