Memorial tree program blooms into new Northark tradition

Wed Jul 3, 2019 at 03:37 PM

Buberwa tree

Thousands of students pass through the doors at North Arkansas College to get their educational credentials, receive workforce training or just take a class for fun.  Sadly, there are a few students whose lives end too soon. 

Such is the case of Tanzanian student Allen Buberwa who drowned while swimming with friends in the Buffalo River last May.  Allen was well-known on campus. 

Northark held a vigil and sent cards and gifts to Allen’s family in Africa.

Randy Esters, Northark’s president wanted to do more to remember Allen and other students who pass while at Northark.  Staring at a barren and empty outdoor space on campus near his office, an idea grew.

That idea bloomed into reality at the June Board of Trustees meeting where Esters announced a new Memorial Tree program that will start a new Northark tradition.  When a student is lost, a tree will be planted on campus to commemorate his or her life.  A commemorative plaque will rest under the tree. Each plaque will be the shape of the student’s home state or country and bear their name.

Community members and Northark Trustees, students, Northark faculty and staff as well as the Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce turned out to commemorate the first tree planted on campus.

“This is a new tradition,” Esters explained.  “We’re a small college and our roots run deep.  The Memorial Tree program will be an enduring, living remembrance to lost students that will be visible and contribute to the environment far into the future.”  

He wanted the plaque to be shaped like Africa. Micki Somers created the design, John Levy cut the plaque on the plasma cutter on the north campus and Kevin Somers and team landscaped the location.  The plaque hangs under a beautiful Japanese maple planted at the south entrance of the college.  The tree is named the Allen Buberwa tree and was planted by members of the Northark family in memory of Allen Buberwa.

North Arkansas College is committed to providing an educational and work environment for its students, faculty, and staff that is free from sexual discrimination including sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual violence. No form of sexual discrimination will be tolerated. See the full North Arkansas College Title IX Policy and Procedures for the specific definitions of sexual harassment and sexual violence, including examples of such conduct.