DeKALB – When Kimberly Agee saw the Northern Illinois University conference room named in honor of her deceased son Steven, her face lit up with joy.
NIU held a dedication ceremony Monday at the Campus Life Building for Steven R. Agee II, an NIU student who was shot and killed Nov. 23. 2011, during an off-campus party in an apartment at 809 Edgebrook Drive in DeKalb.
"It's overwhelming to know my son was given his life to us for 22 years and 10 months, and within that short time, he left a legacy," Kimberly Agee said.
That legacy now carries on to Chianthony Lee, the sophomore who received the Steven R. Agee II Award on Monday during the Student Association's 2013-14 Student Choice Awards.
The dedication ceremony was held before the award ceremony. NIU officials unveiled the plaque of Steven Agee II outside of the Campus Life Building along with the Steven R. Agee II conference room, located in the Student Association office suite.
Monday marked the first event for the Agee family since Chaz Thrailkill, 21, of Markham, accepted a plea agreement for the murder of Steven Agee II. Thrailkill was sentenced to 30 years in prison – 25 of those years being mandatory – after pleading guilty April 1 to first-degree murder and attempted aggravated discharge of a firearm.
Kimberly Agee stressed the importance of honoring students who have continued her son's legacy. The award handed Monday is independent from the scholarship the Agee family raises money for through their website, www.stevenrageeii.org.
"My son lost his life at college. We owe it to younger generations to replace that life," she said. "That's one of my ultimate goals."
Lee, a business management major who is involved with the Student Association Senate and Liberated Minds Organization, said it was an honor to be given the Steven R. Agee II Award. He was nominated online and selected by the Student Association.
"It feels good to represent Steven Agee," Lee said. "It puts more pressure on me to be a leader on campus and to uphold his legacy."
During his 4 1/2 years studying at NIU, Steven Agee was involved with Black Male Initiative and was the president of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.
The Black Male Initiative was also recognized Monday as the most outstanding organization. The organization boasts a 100 percent graduation rate.
Elliot Echols, NIU student trustee, remembered his friend Steven Agee as a quiet kid who cared deeply about his schoolwork. Echols said Steven used to miss phone calls from his parents because he was so involved on campus.
Echols also recalled how he and Steven would always compete against one another.
"We were a team, but we operated independently," Echols said. "Steven made me remember that."
NIU students will now be able to see a poster of Steven Agee in the conference room with words reading, "Dream, believe, achieve."
Kimberly Agee said it's bittersweet that the court proceedings are over and that she doesn't know if she'll ever get closure.
Still, she will always be able to see the legacy her son left behind at NIU.
"Forever," Kimberly Agee said. "That's all I'm asking."