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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Friends cope with UNCC student death
Updated 05/08/2008 06:49 AM
By: Lisa Reyes

UNC student death
Police are now looking into the death of Irina Yarmolenko, a Chapel Hill native, whose body was found by her car on Tuesday.
CHARLOTTE -- As students on the campus of UNC Charlotte prepared for this weekend’s graduation, they also took time to remember one of their own after a sophomore student's body was found Monday in Gaston County.


Police are now looking into the death of Irina Yarmolenko, a Chapel Hill native, whose body was found lying on the ground next to her car down an embankment close to the Catawba River.


Messages of sympathy continued to pop up Wednesday on the social networking site Facebook.com in an online memorial to Yarmolenko.


"It's really hit them hard,? teacher and production manager Joseph Shannon said of the UNC Charlotte students.


"I just want to know how she died,? added friend Megen Sorensen.


Irina Yarmolenko
Known to friends as “Ira,? the 20-year-old sophomore loved the theater and worked with Sorensen on a show last semester.


"She was a very talented actress,? Sorensen said, adding that Yarmolenko also enjoyed knitting and always had a smile on her face.


Though student records show Yarmolenko had an undeclared major, Sorensen said she was majoring in French and had a way of making others feel important. She took time Wednesday to reflect on the last time she saw her friend, just after Sorensen had finished a performance.


"She was raving about me, telling me how great I was,? Sorensen said. “She makes you feel really great about yourself."


Shannon has become an unofficial counselor to students as they have turned to him for answers.


"If I can listen and be a shoulder to them, that's really all I can do for them,? he said. He said Yarmolenko was quiet but had a way of standing out.


"When she had a job to do, she stepped forward and you couldn't miss her,? he said.


Besides school and theater, Yarmolenko also worked as a photographer for the school newspaper and at Jackson's Java Coffeehouse.


Workers placed white flowers at the counter to remember the girl known for her smile and compassion, and coworkers said she will be missed.


Yarmelenko just turned 20 on May 2. She was a graduate of Chapel Hill High School. Students planned to hold a candlelight vigil Thursday at the Belk Tower on campus at 7 p.m.







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