Growing A Legacy

Liesel Anderson was a member of the class of 2024 and passed away last year from a rare type of cancer, Ewing’s Sarcoma. Her legacy is lived on through her best friend, junior Anne Rinella, and her efforts to create a memorial in her honor on campus.


Junior Anne Rinella stands with the garden plaque, honoring Liesel Anderson. photo by Charlotte Malone

by Charlotte Malone, Editor In Chief

As you walk towards your morning math class in Donnelly, you may happen to see the newest addition to the STA campus: A small garden with colorful stepping stones and a glass dragonfly fills the space, inviting all who walk past to take a minute of mindfulness. 

What is the story behind this space, you may ask? While this may seem like any ordinary sanctuary to members of the STA community, to junior Anne Rinella and her friends it is much more. This garden was recently established as a memorial for former STA student, Liesel Anderson. 

“Liesel had such a big affect on me,” Rinella said. “She was the most real friend I’ve ever had,” Anderson was a member of the class of 2024, and in June of 2021, she passed away from Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare type of cancer. 

“After the All Souls Day Mass where we honored [Liesel]last year, I felt like everyone had moved on,“ Rinella said.  “I didn’t think that she was honored in the way she was meant to. No one knows what to say, not because they don’t care; it’s just a really difficult situation. I decided that I needed to do what Liesel would’ve wanted me to do and turn my pain into something that can help people.”

Director of campus operations Becky Flores helped Rinella see the project through to completion and turn the vision into a reality. 

“I was contacted by Dr. Baker to advise [Rinella] and come up with a location and design,” Flores said. “I wanted to put it [the garden] somewhere we could keep an eye on it and take good care of it.  Fortunately, [Rinella] and her friends had raised a nice amount of money and we were able to get the materials to make it happen.”

In the building stages, Rinella wanted to make sure that every aspect was detailed to Anderson’s legacy and character. This led to the addition of handmade stepping stones created by Anderson’s best friends, “the GORKS”. 

“Everyone came over to my house and we made build-your-own stepping stones,” Rinella said. “We each got to be as creative as we wanted in making them, and it was a very healing process.” The garden also contains a glass dragonfly, Anderson’s spirit animal, according to her friends and family. 

While this place can be used as a healing space for those who knew Anderson, Rinella encourages all members of the STA community to use the garden. 

“If you’re ever having a hard time on campus, going there is always going to make you feel better because it has her energy. Even if you didn’t know Liesel, this is still a really peaceful place,” Rinella said. “It’s a place to go and just sit with nature and art and connect with yourself or whatever you believe in. But for people who did know Liesel, I think this garden is going to become a healing place, it already has been. Her family comes here all the time just to talk to Liesel or to pray.”

Anderson’s garden will continue to grow and benefit the STA community, leaving behind a legacy of love and comfort.