UCF Remembers Pulse One Year Later

UCF Remembers Pulse One Year Later

One year after the tragic event, UCF paid tribute to the 49 people killed on June 12, 2016, and unveiled a mural dedicated to the two Knights who lost their lives.

On June 8, 2017, UCF paid tribute to the 49 victims of the Pulse attack through a blood drive, an art exhibition and a remembrance ceremony. Pulse owner Barbara Poma ’90 spoke at the opening reception for Resilience: Remembering Pulse at the UCF Art Gallery. During the memorial ceremony “UCF Remembers,” President John C. Hitt and others emphasized the need for inclusion and equality both on and beyond campus. The events concluded with Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith ’03 introducing a new mural, located on the Student Union, that memorializes Juan Ramon Guerrero and Christopher Andrew “Drew” Leinonen ’07 ’09MA, two Knights killed on June 12, 2016.

“UCF stands with our LGBTQ+ students, faculty, staff and alumni, and I am proud that UCF is a place where love, respect and inclusion guide all that we do.”
President John C. Hitt



Students, faculty and staff wrote 73 “To Knights, With Love” notes that were placed throughout the Pegasus Ballroom.

An older hispanic-looking woman looks at artwork in a gallery.

The opening reception for “Resilience: Remembering Pulse” was held in the UCF Art Gallery. The exhibition, which ran throughout the month, included 80 pieces of art, including photos, quilts, painting and more that honored the victims and the LGBTQ+ community.

People are seen walking in front of a large mural of an androgynous looking person with short brown hair wearing a white shirt on a rainbow-colored background.

Provost A. Dale Whittaker walks past “New Season,” a mural by Luce Sky.

A man squats down, holding his cell phone over a large, round pile of small, white objects. The legs of woman standing next to him can be seen. She is wearing black ballet flats.

A patron takes a close-up snapshot of “Sentinel: Watching salt air push ships along the horizon, I see myself in you,” an installation by Matthew Mosher that features 15,070 9mm plaster cartridges, one for each gun-related homicide in the U.S. in 2016.

The silhouettes of two women are seen looking at a giant installation of pieces of paper torn from a book, colored, and shaped into a giant heart.

Visitors view the mixed art piece “Understanding and Counseling the Homosexual” by David Matteson. The heart-shaped installation invites viewers to redact pieces of the original 1967 text that uses discriminatory language while examining the psychological development of homosexual men.

A woman with blond and pink hair is sitting in a beige lounge chair, with a red ball in her left hand, where blood is being drawn from her arm. A nurse looks over her.

UCF Information Specialist Tairi Perez donates blood during the blood drive held on campus. The drive collected 217 donations.

The Pulse mural at UCF is installed on a wall on the Student Union. On the brick wall is a tromp l'oeil painting of an archway, with a winged, white horse rearing up. It is standing at the top of a few concrete steps, which also has two men sitting together nearby holding books and each other. Above this is a round, rainbow-colored stained glass window with a heart in the middle and a single white dove in flight.

A tribute to Drew and Juan, who were killed at Pulse nightclub, this mural by artists Michael Pilato and Yuriy Karabash depicts the couple holding books to represent their time as students at UCF. The mural also includes 49 birds, representing each of the people killed on June 12, 2016.

A man in a blue shirt is holding a large piece of paper with a sketch and paint stains as two women look on.

Artist Michael Pilato works with Christine Leinonen, Drew’s mom, at his studio.

A woman in a white shirt holds her hand against a canvas while a man in a blue shirt puts his hand on top of hers, helping to soak the paint.

Christine Leinonen places a blue handprint over her son’s heart. The artists worked with family and friends from both families to make sure their loved ones were accurately represented and to make them part of the artwork.

Yuriy Karabash, standing, and Michael Pilato, sitting, are painting part of a mural.

Artists Yuriy Karabash and Michael Pilato work on the mural in their studio.

Mayra Guerrero presses her hand against a painting her son.

Mayra Guerrero places a purple handprint over her son Juan’s heart.

A man in a blue shirt is seen holding up a paintbrush to the chin of a painting of two men sitting together, one with his arm around the other.

Artist Yuriy Karabash works on some final details.

A group of people stand on a stage and sing.

Thirty-four members of the Orlando Gay Chorus sang during the memorial ceremony in the Student Union.

A woman wearing a purple Orlando United shirt stands in front of a podium. Behind her is a screen with a giant rainbow.

UCF User Engagement Librarian Carrie Moran, who is president of the UCF Pride association for faculty and staff, speaks during the memorial ceremony.

Eight people are seen holding white roses while standing in front of a row of clear vases on a black table. The person in focus in the right is placing his rose in one of the vases.

Members of the UCF community place a white rose in a vase for each of the 49 victims as their names are read aloud.

A man in a blue button-down shirt and dark blue blazer stands at a podium with three small microphones.

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith ’03, who played a key role in bringing the mural to UCF, introduces a video about the making of the Pulse mural.

Five men and two women stand together facing the camera in front of the mural, which is lit up on a wall behind them. You can see a flying white horse rearing up and two men sitting on steps on the mural.

Eric Tharp ’02, Celia Ruiz, Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith ’03, Christine Leinonen, Jose Arriagada, Michael Pilato and Yuriy Karabash stand in front of the installed mural.

One woman in a black baseball hat turned backward with rainbow ribbon has her arm wrapped around another woman, who rests her head on the shoulder of the woman wearing the black hat. A large group of people stand facing the camera in front of the mural. You can see the white, winged horse rearing in the mural and the part of the Student Union. The giant Pegasus seal on the floor of the Student Union was filled in with white tea candles and tiny rainbow roses.