Wednesday, April 16, 2008

April 16, 2008

“We are Hokies, We will Prevail”

A year later I still remember vividly the events that unfolded. I was sitting at my computer at work and I pulled up CNN, as I often do. The headline was “two Virginia Tech students shot in their dorm.” It got worse from there. By the end of the day, 33 people were dead.

In the weeks that followed more stories came out surrounding the shooting. I was moved by the courage and love that was shown by the Virginia Tech community. While this amazed me, I wasn’t surprised. Because those were the kind of people I knew at Virginia Tech. The comradery and loyalty of the community of Virginia Tech was awe-inspiring.

In the days that followed the events of April 16, many called for the resignation of Dr. Steger. This upset me greatly. A tragedy of this proportion could have happened in any public place, be it a grocery store, a movie theater, or another school. The administration of Virginia Tech made the best decisions they could based on the information available to them, at the time.

Many critics questioned the safety of the campus. It upset me to think that people who had never been to Blacksburg or Virginia Tech, might think it was unsafe. In my four years at Virginia Tech, I can say without any hesitation, there was never one night where I felt unsafe.

With an undergraduate student body of 25,000, the campus never felt big to me. In fact, sometimes it felt small. It was my home for four years. The students were all different and they came from many different walks of life, but they accepted me and I accepted them. Why, you might ask, because we were all Hokies.

One memory that comes to mind is being part of a group project for a class. I was a blonde sorority girl who worked at the sports bar downtown. The other members of my group were three “hippies” with dreadlocks who were involved in several campus protests. They didn’t care that I wasn’t “like” them. We were Hokies and we enjoyed talking to each other. That’s why they asked me to be in their group. Even though our lives were different in many ways, we had good conversations and we worked together.

I have never been a part of such a large community who accepted me and everyone else just as we were. They didn’t want me to change. All they wanted was for me to grow into a better version of myself.

There are many different types of people at Virginia Tech. There are hippies, preps, smart people, beautiful people, Asian people, African Americans, Caucasian people. There are sororities and fraternities and GDI’s. There are funny people and happy people. However, the only word I can think of to describe the entire Virginia Tech community is simply good.

On the day of the shooting, I was very sad. I was sad for everyone who was involved and I was sad because that wasn’t my Virginia Tech. I began to think of things that I loved about being a Hokie. Here are a few of them:

As a freshman, studying with my older sister and feeling so “grown-up.”

Older students helping freshman move into their dorms.

Thinking it was neat that my sister, as a freshman, had lived in the same dorm that my Dad once had lived in.

Walking across the drill field in the pouring rain and another student sharing their umbrella with me, then laughing hysterically because we were both drenched.

Eating dinner at 5:00 every day with 20 other girls in Dietrich.

A calculus professor who met with me five days a week because I didn’t understand math.

A senior who stayed at the Math Emporium until 3:00 in the morning because he cared that five freshman passed their test the next day.

Walking across the drill field and seeing the War Memorial Chapel. Then feeling happy as I remembered what some of the pylons were Brotherhood, Honor, Leadership, Sacrifice, Service, Loyalty, Duty and Ut Prosim.

Walking into Lane Stadium with hundreds of people who I had never seen before. Suddenly everyone starts chanting “Lets go Hokies, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, Lets go Hokies.”

Sitting in my chapter room on a Friday afternoon, talking to one of my sorority sisters. When I asked her how her day was, she said it was “cool.” I asked her why and she replied, “I finished designing a prosthetic leg today and someone will be able to use it.”

Cheering for the football players before a big Miami game and feeling the ground vibrate because the screaming was so loud. Then feeling proud that the governor and United States Senators of our state were cheering alongside us.

Walking across campus in my cap and gown with my family and feeling too elated to take it off as we headed to Mike’s Grill for lunch.

A potential employer calling to interview me for a job I wasn’t really qualified for, but he saw Virginia Tech on my resume and was curious about a fellow Hokie.

Nikki Giovanni said it best when she said “we will continue to invent the future.” It took me a while to put these thoughts together. I know this post was somewhat long, but it’s important to me. If you are a praying person, please take a moment to say a prayer for all who were involved. Thanks for reading.


Lauren said...

I still can't believe that happened and it has been a year. I have a friend from home who is at Virginia Tech and loves it. I am glad you both have had such great experiences there.

I will say a prayer for families and the Virginia Tech community.

Lauren said...

I meant the families affected by this

Kiki said...

Keeping everyone in my thoughts on this day, wishing the best for the families and grateful for your reminder that life is precious and the best thing we can do is to go on and try to better each day.

3gand1b said...

Great read........

Claire said...

Thank you for taking the time to write this and for the opportunity to say to someone from Virginia Tech how sorry I am for what the school and families have had to go through this past year. I know so many prayers just go out to the "family" of Virginia Tech. God bless.

Red and White Preppy said...

Thank you for sharing this... I know it's rather difficult.

We had multiple students wearing the colors yesterday. Our principal was a VT graduate, so we also had a moment of silence.

The Mrs. said...

This was great to read to get a real perspective. Great post.

Buford Betty said...

Great post! It sounds like a wonderful campus - and I agree with you regarding the finger pointing to the administration. I think people just look for someone to blame when senseless tragedies occur. That would anger me too. It could've happened anywhere, anytime. I enjoyed reading all your fun memories on campus!