AUSTIN - It's been six months since the tragic death of University of Texas Freshman Haruka Weiser.
In April, her body was found on campus. Police determined she was sexually assaulted and strangled.
The 18-year-old was making her way home following dance practice at the time of the attack.
Friday, Weiser's family returned to Texas to honor her memory and to change the culture of safety on campus.
“It’s not perfect, but we are here today to remember Haruka, a proud Longhorn,” said her father Tom Weiser.
In her death, Haruka was given a Buddhist name that means "Bright Faith." It's not for what she was in life, but for how Haruka will continue to affect her family, friends and the UT community.
Dozens of people converged on a courtyard in the university’s main mall, where her picture shined despite the cloudy day.
Haruka's dormmate spoke of her infectious laughter and gentle soul. She told mourners, “The way Haruka lived her life was never about being center stage.”
“I remember her beautiful personality,” recalled Sylvia Feghali. “A perfect balance between fiery and sweet. And I remember the moments that we shared together, how she helped me grow and made me feel at home again. How inspiring she was; how fun, lighthearted and deeply, deeply caring.”
Her father spoke about the dance major’s determination and inquisitive nature.
"One of the places she wanted to take me was a tour of the stacks at the library,” he laughed. “It was a true nerd-bonding moment."
He then spoke about why the Weiser family chose to come back to UT. They're asking the public to help them prevent this from ever happening again, introducing the ‘Walk With Me’ program.
“By adopting the phrase ‘Walk With Me,’ we hope an environment will be created in which students care for each other, for themselves and for the world around them,” Weiser explained. “When this phrase first came to us, we recognized that ‘Walk With Me’ really had three meanings. The first is to walk with each other. The second is to walk with Haruka's memory and purpose. And the third meaning of Walk With Me is to walk with us and all who are suffering.”
Dedicated to Haruka, who professors called gifted in her craft, her classmates also performed a dance called "Walk With Me.”
Since the first on-campus murder in decades, UT has made major changes when it comes to security with more lighting and more police officers.
Haruka's family hopes her legacy will now be to change the culture of safety on campus.
The ‘Walk With Me’ campaign includes signs, social media, and buttons students can put on clothing or on their backpacks to always remember Haruka and their own safety.
Weiser's family requested that the songs "Amazing Grace" and "Prayer of St. Francis" be played at the UT ceremony, according to the Guild of Carillonneurs at UT. Listen to the carillonneur playing from inside the UT Tower: