Homecoming queen touched the lives of many

August 31, 2007

by Elizabeth DeGrie

Courtney Scott McGuffee, a recent elementary education graduate, inspired respect, love and admiration in peers, friends, family and the students she taught, Caleb Smith, top escort to McGuffee on the Homecoming court last year and a graduate student of business, said.

“She was a first-rate young lady,” Smith said. “The sort of lady you want as Homecoming queen.”

McGuffee’s fiance, Klark Kent, a graduate student of business, said the nice things people said of her were simply truths.

“People talk good about Courtney because it was honestly true,” Kent said. “She was the most caring person I think I’ll ever meet. She had a love for people. She made the people she came in contact with better people.”

This was not a facade that she was using so that people would like her, Kent said.

“The Courtney that people saw in the street was the same Courtney she was with me,” Kent said. “I don’t know why I was the lucky one. She never got sad; she never got angry.”

McGuffee was killed in a one-car accident May 23 near her home in Jonesville. She was on her way to visit her parents after graduation. McGuffee was the first person that Mira Bull, a sophomore engineering major, met at Tech. McGuffee served as Bull’s Orientation Student Leader, but that was only the beginning of their association.

“She was a friend you would always count on,” Bull said.

Bull and McGuffee became friends for the rest of McGuffee’s college career and roommates for the last year.

“She was just always there for me,” Bull said. “I was blessed to have her in my life.”

Bull said she enjoyed sharing a home with McGuffee.

“She was always so thoughtful,” Bull said.
McGuffee would place signs on her door to celebrate her roommates’ birthdays and provide support whenever they were down, Bull said. McGuffee also worked hard for the students she was teaching.

“She was a very hard worker and was dedicated to so many things,” Bull said.

McGuffee and Bull’s other roommate Laura Ortego, a recent graduate and fellow member of Phi Mu, emphasized this point.

“[McGuffee] was happy to go to work every day and do it,” Ortego said.

Ortego said McGuffee loved the beach and she loved to teach.

“Her ideal job would [have been] to teach in Florida,” Ortego said. “So she could go to the beach everyday.”

Her roommates both will miss her a great deal.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her,” Bull said.

McGuffee’s personality has been described as “bubbly,” “sweet” and “caring” among other things. But most often, friends described her extreme love for people and her ability to teach others, even beyond the classroom.

“She taught me a lot about how to love someone better,” Kent said. “How to be a better person.”

McGuffee will be missed, but Kent said that together they lived each day to the fullest.

“I don’t have any regrets, any wish-I-would-haves,” Kent said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to do anything differently. The time we spent together was the best four years of my life.”

One such time was during their freshman year when the couple had not been dating long. But, Kent said when he met McGuffee he “knew it would be something special.”

McGuffee was planning to transfer to Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge the next year and Kent came up with an elaborate scheme to tell her how special she was.

It involved a private viewing of McGuffee’s favorite movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” in the Planetarium, a “pretend” break-in to the TAC and roses of every color.

The night ended with the song “You Take My Breath Away,” serenading McGuffee as she received a red rose, as Kent told her “Well, I think we all know what that one means.”

This event was how Kent’s best friend Matt Drake, a graduate of mechanical engineering, came to know McGuffee better.

“If Klark wasn’t around, she’d hang out with me,” Drake said. “I’d go with her to her functions and if Klark couldn’t go.”

Drake said that McGuffee was always really loud and excited about life.

“She was always extremely excited about everything,” Drake said. “She was really loud and happy. She would always try something; she wouldn’t judge you and say ‘That’s stupid.'”

Klark and McGuffee spent the summer at LSU and Kent received a note from McGuffee a few weeks before school was set to begin reading “I’ll be at Tech in the fall.”

“That summer was the best summer of my life,” Kent said. “It was just the two of us down in Baton Rouge.”

Kent described his relationship with McGuffee as a Cinderella story.

“You hear those Cinderella stories and people don’t think they really happen,” Kent said. “But, it really happened to us.”

An hour before the accident that took her life, McGuffee sent Kent a text message reading, “How sweet it is to be loved by you.”

“I know she was in one of her happy, goofy moods she got in on the road,” Kent said.

All those that loved her said she was a very strong Christian and that she influenced those that loved her to be likewise through both her life and her death.

“It brought me closer to God,” Drake said. “I try to live my life day to day by her example. I try to be a more religious person.”

Tears are not what Kent said McGuffee would have wanted to see from those who loved her.

“I just miss her like crazy,” Kent said. “I know that she wants me to be strong. She always tried to make everything positive.”