By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — 2009 Salem State University graduate Brianna Roy said her classmate Sean Collier talked of becoming a police officer “every chance he could get.”
“His life was cut short doing what he loved to do,” she said.
Collier, a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was killed in the line of duty four weeks ago. Hundreds gathered at Salem State yesterday to remember the 26-year-old criminal justice grad.
Those who knew Collier remembered him yesterday for his kindheartedness, dedication and humor.
“He had more than one group of friends,” said Roy. “Why? Because his personality was that big and his heart was that big.”
“He was truly born to be in this profession,” said Tim Walton, a 2008 SSU criminal justice graduate and Newton police officer. “... He has pushed me to be a better police officer, a better person.”
Authorities say Collier was shot and killed while on duty at MIT on April 18, allegedly at the hands of Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
More than 4,000 people, including Vice President Joe Biden, attended a memorial service for Collier last month at MIT. Collier was buried at Puritan Lawn Cemetery in Peabody in a private ceremony April 24.
“It was a life that ended far too soon,” said Dan Jenkins, a 2009 SSU grad and Collier’s roommate. “... April 18 was one of the worst nights of my life. But I’m glad to say my time with Sean was some of the best nights of my life.”
Jenkins, a North Shore Community College police officer and reserve officer in Newbury, remembered Collier’s penchant for pickup games of 3-on-3 basketball, belting out Christmas carols and how he “was sometimes late to class, but would always make the dean’s list.”
“By all accounts, (Collier’s) was a life well-lived,” said SSU President Patricia Meservey. “... He will live on in the stories of his kindness and goodness.”
Uniformed officers from Salem police, MIT and Massachusetts State Police stood among the crowd at yesterday’s outdoor ceremony. The Rev. Richard Clancy, MIT’s Catholic chaplain, gave the ceremony’s invocation and benediction.
Collier’s father, Allen Collier, and brother-in-law, Brendan Lynch, attended the ceremony but did not speak publicly. The university gave them a copy of a plaque that will be hung in SSU’s criminal justice department in Collier’s honor.
Salem State has also established a scholarship in memory of Collier, to be given annually to a SSU criminal justice student, and will plant a tree for him at the university’s new library, which is slated to open this fall.
Kristen Kuehnle, chair of SSU’s criminal justice department, called Collier “a person of great character.”
“We have great pride that we knew this amazing man,” she said. “Sean’s life is an inspiration to others in our major.”
Collier graduated with honors from Salem State. While in college, he worked at Bertucci’s restaurant in Vinnin Square.
After working in a civilian role with Somerville police, the Wilmington native was hired in January 2012 by MIT campus police.
To contribute to the Sean A. Collier ’09 Criminal Justice Award scholarship, checks should be made payable to the Salem State University Foundation and sent to the Salem State University Foundation, 352 Lafayette St., Salem, MA 01970.
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.