Interim Dean Mark Cordes warmly recalls the first time he met Stacia. It was in July 2015 at a Dinner with the Deans event for incoming NIU law students and was held in Champaign, IL. Stacia, along with three other new students at the dinner, shared their personal stories as well as their dreams of becoming attorneys, developing bonds that would continue as classmates.
The entire NIU College of Law community is still in disbelief since getting the unfortunate news about the recent murder of Stacia Hollinshead, a 2018 graduate. Stacia, 30, was tragically gunned down by her ex-husband on Saturday, March 23, 2019.
“We at NIU Law are stunned by this tragic and senseless loss of life,” Dean Cordes said. “Stacia was a very nurturing and caring person, very engaged in her studies, and was an extremely dedicated and loving mother. She had tremendous potential as a lawyer and a very bright future ahead of herself. Stacia was the type of graduate that makes our school very proud.”
Many have expressed their heartfelt condolences on social media and leaning on the support from each other. The consensus, however, is that Stacia was strong, had a quiet grace, genuinely cared about others and loved her daughter beyond measure.
Sandy Gallant-Jones and Stacia quickly bonded during their first year of law school. Although they had class together, their relationship strengthened when Stacia and her daughter would come to the law library in the evenings. Sandy recalled times she would help entertain Stacia’s daughter by giving her headphones and letting her watch Disney cartoons on her IPad while Stacia worked on her appellate brief.
“She was strong, resilient, kind, driven, and she wanted to do well in law school. If there was one reason and one reason alone why Stacia was driven to succeed, it was because of her daughter,” Sandy said. “Stacia was always encouraging and supportive of her classmates, especially those who were single moms,” she added.
Stacia’s young daughter became such a part of her law school experience, that the students and professors expected to see her with Stacia at all times. Sandy also noted that, “Stacia didn’t take this for granted. She was grateful of everyone being so accepting of her and the fact that she was a single mom.”
During law school, Stacia was hard working. She was a member of the NIU Law Review, participated in other school activities, and held several different legal positions. The positions included a judicial intern with the 16th Judicial Circuit in Kane County, CASA Kane County, and a law clerk with a law office in Batavia, Illinois.
“Stacia was ambitious and juggling so many things. She never complained about any of it. She just did it and rolled with the punches to get it done,” said her former classmate and Moot Court partner Nikki Sterling. “She was a brilliant teammate, phenomenal person, and an incredible, attentive mother with a beautiful spirit,” she added.
Although being a mom was her greatest achievement, Stacia was a proud Army veteran having served eleven years as an U.S. Army Intelligence Analyst, including a tour in Iraq. After passing the bar exam in October 2018, she was hired as a DeKalb County States’ Attorney in November.
In a statement from DeKalb County State’s Attorney Rick Amato, he said, “Although Stacia had been with our office only a few months, we quickly came to know her as a dedicated mother and prosecutor with a bright future in the practice of law.” He added, in a sentiment felt by most is that, “Stacia’s death is the worst possible outcome of domestic violence, and it will strengthen us as we continue to work to stop abusers who terrorize their partners and rip apart their families.”
While no one can make sense of this senseless tragedy, Nikki hopes that even though so many people are in pain right now, that they remember the good times and the many great memories with Stacia.
“Initially I was only focusing on the tragic details of her death, but speaking with fellow classmates about all the great memories we shared with Stacia brought great comfort. Those conversations helped me focus more on Stacia and how much she experienced and accomplished in her 30 years on earth. Those memories of her have helped me begin the healing process.”
In order to remember Stacia, and to help with our own healing process, the NIU College of Law will hold a memorial service for Stacia on Thursday, April 11, at 5 pm in the Thurgood Marshall Gallery of the law school. This will be a time to recognize Stacia’s life, share memories, and address the problem of domestic violence in our society. Students, staff, faculty, alumni, and the broader community are welcome to attend.
Funeral arrangements for Stacia can be found here.