By all accounts, Dawn Rossignol was the girl most families wish they had living next door.
Dawn Rossignol '04, center, with Christine Jones '04, left, and Laura Olenick '04.
She grew up in Medway, Maine, population about 300 fewer than Colby's student body. She was a bright, motivated young woman remembered as consummately conscientious and utterly dependable. A babysitter for neighborhood families, she was as popular with the kids as with their parents. She played clarinet in the Schenck High School band, was a lector at St. Peter Catholic Church and visited nursing home residents with the church youth group.
Her intelligence and academic ambition propelled her into the National Honor Society, and she graduated first in Schenck's Class of 2000. A prestigious George Mitchell Scholarship helped make it possible for her to attend Colby. "We look for people who would make a difference," Colleen Quint, executive director of the Mitchell Institute, told the Katahdin Times. "Dawn really captured that."
Colby also designated her an L.L. Bean scholar in her first year.
Moving from a northern Maine mill town to a campus community that takes pride in its international reach and high academic standards didn't faze Dawn. She continued to excel in the classroom, earning Dean's List honors almost every semester. In the winters she would take her Colby friends to East Millinocket to watch her brother, Michael (now a first-year student at the University of New England in Biddeford) play basketball for Schenck, a family friend told the Maine Sunday Telegram.
Her academic advisor, Associate Professor of Biology Russell Johnson, described her as "the type of student we like to get; the type of student professors love to teach." Dawn was bright, curious and very motivated, he said.
As a biology major she tackled the hard science courses, but she also embraced the liberal arts ideal of a broad foundation, taking courses in classics, New England history and film appreciation, among others.
"She was quiet, but she wasn't shy," Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Biology Catherine Bevier said softly, walking down the hill from Lorimer Chapel the night that news of Dawn's death spread through the campus. Bevier remembers Dawn as a quiet but confident presence-a capable and fun student to have in class.
Students and professors say Dawn took her studies very seriously, but they also remember her sense of humor and sense of adventure. While studying in Australia last year she tried skydiving.
Dawn had applied to graduate school to study pharmacology; when she was killed she was waiting to hear if she would be accepted.
The daughter of Emilio Rossignol, a former paper mill-worker who is now a contractor in the Millinocket area, and Charleen Rossignol, secretary of St. Peter Catholic Church, Dawn was the first person in her family to attend college. After her death the Rossignols asked that gifts in her memory be directed to Colby for a memorial scholarship. Scholarship money enabled Dawn to attend Colby, where she was very happy, the Rossignols told Dean of Students Janice Kassman, and they thought it fitting that a scholarship in her memory to benefit Maine students might extend that same opportunity to others.