I was… president of Student Government
I was in my apartment which was attached to our Fraternity house, getting ready to head to campus for the Traffic & Parking Committee meeting. A brother came down and told me to turn on CNN. I did and I remember thinking, wait this is our community, this is happening here. It was surreal to realize that the events on TV were unfolding outside your house.
In that moment, I did want to call my parents, but Verizon service went down. I was eventually able to find a friend who had service and call my parents just to let them know I was ok. Throughout this time various student leaders were communicating online trying to figure out if there was anything we could do. Ultimately, we met later that day to talk about a plan of action. The events of the week after April 16th are really a whirlwind for me. There are some events or moments I will never forget though.
I was able to check the SGA email and my personal email started to get flooded by people from across the country. It was overwhelming reading the messages of support and people trying to figure out how they could help. I will never forget the compassion and support that people showed to the Virginia Tech community.I went to the Holtzman Center that afternoon to see if there was any way I could help. I still remember talking with a friend who was frantically trying to reach her friend, Caitlin Hammaren. I felt helpless, there was nothing I could really do or say, but it brought home the need for our community to find some way to come together.
Hokies United was an ad hoc group of students from across Virginia Tech. We all met that night and various students stepped up to take initiative and find ways to bring our community together. Hokies United put forth the idea of a makeshift memorial and made it happen that night. Others in the group went to Holtzman to talk with the media. I wound up working with a group on coordinating the thousands of candles that were donated for the candlelight vigil. The GERMAN Club basement served as headquarters. We worked on it right up until we left for the convocation.
It was odd to look down at an index card on a chair and see your name and then look next to it and see one with President Bush written on it.
The convocation was extraordinarily moving. It was really the first time everyone had been together. The President’s Office at Virginia Tech had called us prior to the convocation to tell us that they wanted us to meet the President. I remember thinking it was odd that they would call to tell us we’d meet with Steger, so I clarified. That’s when I found out President Bush was coming to Virginia Tech. It was odd to look down at an index card on a chair and see your name and then look next to it and see one with President Bush written on it. We didn’t have a lot of interaction with the President, but I appreciated his showing of support for our community. In reflecting on the convocation I realize how well it highlighted the strength and resiliency of the Virginia Tech community.
April 16th changed so many lives. For me it took a while to realize its impact. I graduated that semester and moved to Florida for law school. It took three years to realize that my calling was not law, but rather my calling was the chance to work with future generations of student leaders as a student affairs professional. As we approach the five year anniversary, I am getting ready to graduate with a Masters in Higher Education Administration, and the hope that I can make a difference in the lives of future students and help them understand their power and potential.