I was… on the fifth floor of Pritchard Hall

I was in my dorm on the 5th floor of Pritchard. Room 5011. I remember it like it was yesterday.

I had an Econ test at 10:10 in McBryde, so I was up early studying. I heard sirens early in the morning, especially because I lived right next to West AJ. That actually allowed me to capture some pretty intense photographs. A neighbor of mine, Case, had a police scanner and we all crowded in his room to listen to the police chatter. After not hearing much, I headed to class around 9:45am because I wanted to get to McBryde early for my test.

As I passed Slusher Wing, I was told that classes were canceled and there was a shooting in Norris. In disbelief, I kept walking until I saw students running. I turned around and walked quickly back to my dorm.

It is impossible to convey, in words, what it meant to be a Hokie that night.

Throughout the day, my hallmates and I closely watched media coverage and listened to the police radio. At first, the police thought there was more than one gunman on the loose. We also looked at Facebook to see if any of our friends/professors were victims. Our faces were pale with fear, our stomachs churned with uneasiness, and we bit our nails with anxiety. We felt helpless.

On the evening of the 16th, I went to the candlelight vigil and wanted to be around as many Hokies as possible. It is impossible to convey, in words, what it meant to be a Hokie that night.

The way to describe the day, in my eyes, is that it was surreal. I mean, it was unbelievable to think that one day I am studying for a test, living the life of a normal college student and the next day the President of the United States comes to speak on campus. In addition, the news coverage was just overwhelming. The media was ruthless.

Five years later, I respect life more. I understand the brevity of life, and I care more about making a difference, because in the end, that is what matters most to me. I have that mindset because I experienced the tragedy.