5 years later…Reflections of a Virginia Tech Student
April 16, 2012 by
Categories: Guest Author

Five years ago on a Monday morning not unlike this one, I was sitting in a classroom on Virginia Tech’s campus – 4/16/07 – it was snowing that day, my senior year, and only a few weeks before graduation. Many lives were lost that day and many others were forever changed, including mine. I avoid talking about it and often grow agitated when strangers or even my friends ask questions about the tragedy.

It was a frightening, horrific, and deeply sad time and my understanding of loss, tragedy, and of Virginia Tech and its campus will never be the same. I wish that I could say that my feelings of loss and sadness have been completely transformed into something positive and meaningful and that such an experience has created a new light and drive in me to love and serve, be more mindful, count my blessings, etc. For me, the process has not been that easy.

On the rare occasion, such as this morning, when I force myself to slow down and re-live the images of that day and the events of the following weeks, the pain and hurt still flow freely. When I drive into Blacksburg for a football game or when I walk across the drillfield a sinking feeling still finds its way into my heart. And I am okay with that.

Sadness, terror, confusion, despair, anger, and deep hurt for my community, are all feelings worth having. They are part of who I am and the story that I lived that day and am still living. Remembering this day in a positive light may well be useful for some and is good practice in moving forward. I, however, believe that it is also important to let ourselves grieve, to remember, to be sad, to have dark and uncomfortable emotions and memories. They are real and they are part of the process also.

I accept that my time as a student at VT will forever been colored by a tragedy, but somehow I have even more pride for the institution now and my enthusiasm as a Hokie fan grows every year. For better or for worse, I have been forever changed, but will always be a Hokie. This wasn’t easy to write, so thanks for reading and letting me share.


Martha Perry is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and currently working towards her Ph.D in Family Science at the University of Kentucky. You can reach Martha at martha.perry@uky.edu. 

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2 Thoughts About 5 years later…Reflections of a Virginia Tech Student

  • Melissa Dalton
    April 16, 2012 at 9:49 pm Reply

    I have never felt something so real before. Martha is wonderful and I can feel the pain that she has inside of her from this tragedy. I can not even imagine what it would be like to have gone through this nor could I possibly write about it, it takes courage to put yourself out there.

  • Laura April 17, 2012 at 9:46 am Reply

    Excellent point, Melissa! It takes so much courage to show this level of vulnerability. Martha has an excellent ability to put us her shoes in order to see a glimpse of her experience. Such a great post, Martha! Thank you for sharing.

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