Ten years ago I was an undergraduate student at Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS. I remember walking on campus that spring day and hearing about the… gosh, I don’t even know what to call it. Back then, I think it was referred to as the Virginia Tech Massacre; but now I don’t think they use that word anymore. It was a horrible and painful tragedy that permanently separated 32 people from their families and communities back in 2007. April 16 is a solemn day, but it is also a day of support and strength. Today, it is referred to as the Day of Remembrance, and I think that is a good thing.
In the weeks leading up to this 10-year memorial, there has been a lot of discussion in my classes and among my peers about the tragedy. We’ve been talking about issues related to safety in classrooms and buildings, mental health, and what we would could do to help keep something like this from happening again.
Before I even thought about writing this blog entry, I was just reading about the incident on April 16, 2007 The Chronicle of Higher Education “The Arc of Her Survival“ by Eric Hoover (April 9, 2017) which talks about Kristina Anderson, survivor of the April 16, 2007 attack, founder of The Koshka Foundation for safe schools, and co-founder of LiveSafe, a mobile safety app that is used by both colleges and businesses. I have only just read this article about Ms. Anderson, but let me tell you something: she is an amazing and inspiring person. Ms. Anderson lived through a horrific event and managed to turn that into an opportunity for healing, teaching, and guiding others.
We need to stay supportive of each other and we all need to take the initiative to connect with our peers. In this active engagement with one another, we are building a stronger community where we are more protected against threats. Mental illness can be an extremely sensitive subject and difficult to discuss, but it shouldn’t be. So many people are affected by varying levels of stress, depression, or other problems at different points in their lives and that’s normal. We are a healthier community when we aren’t afraid to talk about mental illness and to be there to help each other. On campus, the Cook Counseling Center is here and and they are more than willing to help any of us during our times of need.
You know, in higher education, we are under a lot of different kinds of stress. We’re trying to pursue our careers, spend time working on our home-lives, and must deal with responsibilities and other obligations and it can be hard to deal with sometimes. I think that we have a responsibility to look out for one another and to help one another stay grounded. Connect with people in your office, your classes, at your favorite hangouts. It will help breathe fresh air into your life and can keep your perspective healthy.
On this Day of Remembrance, I am thinking a lot about our motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) and I am thinking about building community. No matter how busy we think we are, we can’t be too busy for the human beings in our lives. I will try to live better every day and to set a positive example for all those with whom I interact.