Slain College Student Richard Collins III Honored by Bowie State University at Graduation Ceremony

In addition to celebrating and honoring the graduates accepting their degrees that were present for the ceremony, Bowie State University took the day as an opportunity to honor a student that could not be there as well: Richard Collins III. Collins, aged 23, was a student at Bowie State University and was graduating from the school with a degree in business administration. He was also murdered over the weekend, just days before he was supposed to graduate.

To honor him, the university left an empty seat for the slain member of their community on Tuesday (May 23). Collins’ gown and stole were draped across the empty seat to further commemorate him. His parents accepted Collins’ degree on his behalf. A moment of silence was also held for him.

“Let us pause now in a moment of silence and contemplation of what each of us might do to promote greater peace, harmony and love that seems to be so lacking in our country and our world today,” Micky Burnim, president of Bowie State University, addressed the graduating class.


The ceremony, held on site at the University of Maryland campus, also had the unfortunate commonality of being where Collins died. The senior was stabbed there fatally Saturday (May 20).

At around 3 in the morning, while standing at an on-campus bus stop, Collins was stabbed to death on the University of Maryland campus. He was waiting for un Uber with two friends who were students at UMD. While there, another UMD student, 22-year-old Sean Urbanski, approached Collins. According to eye witnesses, Urbanski told Collins to “step left if you know what’s best for you.” To which Collins replied, “No.”

Following Collins’ response and his unwillingness to move, Urbanski stabbed him in the chest and then fled the scene. The Nation reports that Urbanski was a member of the “racist Facebook group called ‘Alt-Reich: Nation’” and is being investigated by the FBI as a hate crime due to the fact that the killing is racially motivated. Urbanski is white and murdering Collins was a direct result of him being a black person.

Along with the crime being investigated federally as a hate crime, Urbanski is currently being charged with first-degree murder.

Collins, who was supposed to graduate this week, completed ROTC during his time in college and had been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army as of Thursday (May 18). He died later that morning at a local Maryland hospital.

Per The Baltimore Sun, a spokesperson for the Collins family, Reverend Darryl L. Godlock, said that Collins wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps by becoming a military man, just like him.

“He wanted to make his parents proud of him so he went into the military to serve his country.”

Godlock continued, “This was not a thug. This was a very caring individual. He was highly intelligent and he was at the peak of his career. He loved his family, he loved people that he came in contact with, and more importantly he loved his God.”

Photo Credit: Richard Collins III Facebook

Sheriden Chanel is a twenty-something writer, Beyoncé enthusiast, and lover of all things visual art. Keep up with her and her musings on social via @indiebyline.