The Student Life Center received a new look this past Saturday as Bellarmine officially unveiled a sculpture to commemorate former students Milan Gambhir ’16, Andy Nguyen ’17, and alumni and former Spanish teacher Mikael Meyer ’96. All of them passed away in early 2015 as a result of the same rare form of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme. Though the sculpture itself had been complete for some time, the ceremony held in front of SLC Saturday marked its official unveiling.
The sculpture, entitled “Milan’s Helix”, was designed by a local stainless-steel artist named Roger Stoller. He worked extensively with both Milan’s parents, who commissioned the sculpture, as well as with Mr. Meyercord, Mrs. Luscher, Fr. Mario, Fr. Wade, and Brian Adams.
Mr. Meyercord said that the process for approving, creating, and placing the sculpture on campus has taken a long time. “It has been in the works for well over a year,” he said.
The sculpture itself depicts two people, one lifting the other up. “This portrays the fact that all three of these men were ‘men for and with others’,” Mr. Meyercord said. Various items of personal importance to the former students, such as books, music notes, and a microscope, surround the figures.
The families of Milan, Andy, and Mikael, artist Roger Stoller, and various faculty members including Mrs. Luscher, Mr. Meyercord, and Fr. Wade, were all at the ceremony Saturday morning.
It began with an introduction from Mr. Meyercord, who briefly described the lives of Milan, Andy, and Mikael. He stressed his belief that each of them, in their own way, were “men for and with others”, and that his hope with the dedication of this sculpture was that “their memory would not be forgotten”.
Milan’s father, Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, a doctor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, followed. He cautioned against focusing on the loss of Milan, Andy, and Mikael. “It is often easy for family members to dwell on the loss of their loved ones. I want to celebrate how much they all accomplished in what little time they had,” he said. “Perhaps if they had been born a hundred years from now, they would’ve lived longer. But if they had been born a hundred years ago, maybe they wouldn’t have lived as long. We have to be grateful for the lives they had,” he went on.
Roger Stoller, the designer, and architect of the sculpture spoke next. He expressed that he was “incredibly grateful” for having been given the opportunity to celebrate Milan, Andy, and Mikael, through his art. He also described how thankful he was that he “got to know them and their families throughout this process” despite their loss. Stoller said he had hoped to capture the “energy of their spirit” through the helix, including unique aspects of each of them in the sculpture.
At the end of the ceremony, Fr. Mario led the entire group in the Prayer for Generosity as a sign of gratitude for the lives of the victims. He and Fr. Cobb, Fr. Wade, and Fr. Shinney then blessed the statue with holy water as “a symbol of renewal and life”, officially dedicating it to Milan, Andy, and Mikael.
Dr. Gambhir’s words stood out the most: “I recently thought of how someone once told me that you die twice. Once when you physically pass away, and once when your name is said for the last time.” He continued, “by having this beautiful sculpture here at Bellarmine, this institution that truly celebrates the members of its community, and this place they all loved, Milan, Andy, and Mikael will live on.”