PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Amara Marluke was a “walking ray of sunshine” who made an impact on her community, her friend Jasmine Shaheen said Saturday. “Whether or not you were having a good or bad day, she made sure you had a good day.”
While Marluke was just a freshman at Portland State her friends said she had a profound impact not just at the university but in the surrounding community. They said she was a bright, young woman who had an even brighter future ahead.
Now, her loved ones said the world is much dimmer without her.
Marluke, 19, was shot to death at the corner of SW College and 6th Avenue, in front of Mak’s Market and across the street from the Cheerful Tortoise Bar near the PSU campus. The suspect, Keenan Harpole, surrendered to authorities in Deschutes County and now faces a 2nd-degree murder charge in Multnomah County. He’s expected back in court on Wednesday.
On Saturday, friends, family and classmates from PSU and Sunset High School came together to celebrate her life.
“We come together to mourn, to learn, reflect, as well as to celebrate the many wonderful ideas, actions, commitments and energy that this young student had,” said PSU President Stephen Percy. “She is the best of Portland State. We want to honor her and treasure her.”
Classmates said it’s important to have these kinds of opportunities to talk and grieve as a community.
“The more conversation we have, the more openness we offer one another, and the more opportunities we have like this to celebrate her, to talk about domestic violence, to talk about what it looks like to support each other as students,” said Nya Mbock, PSU’s President of Student Government. “It’s really important to be able to treasure Amara and her experience and be able to come together as students.”
Shaheen said Marluke’s impact went well beyond the university community. While visiting the makeshift memorial near the campus, she met someone else whose life was changed by Marluke — a testament to the kind of woman she was.
“She helped him get off the streets and find a place to live because he was dealing with homelessness. You don’t meet people who run up to homeless people and are like, ‘Hey let me help you out.’ It just shows how much she touches people,” said Shaheen. “It was good to come together and remember you’re not alone in this. I think grief can make you feel like you’re the only one in pain when you’re not.”
Loved ones say it’s these stories and memories that will help Marluke live on in spirit.
Earlier in the week Bright Alozie, an assistant professor of Black Studies at PSU, told KOIN 6 News he wanted to honor Marluke’s life and activism, and said that the world deserves to know how good of a human she was.
“Why do the good people just go? You know, she was one of the good people,” Alozie said. “She was beloved, and I mean it when I say that.”
A GoFundMe was set up by Green Hammer, where Marluke’s father works, to help her family with funeral expenses.