St John's Q&A

Friday, May 04, 2007

A friend's article in the Post

1) Adoration tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church.

2) DC Hood v. Holy Redeemer parish, Kensington, 6 pm. Go 'Hood!!
The following is a powerful and uplifting article written by a good friend of mine, Melanie Carroll, which was published in the Washington Post this week.

"How we became a Hokie family"

I sat with checkbook in hand last month amid the piles of acceptance letters, scholarship awards, loan offers and college directories that have dominated our lives for two years. The May 1 deadline to accept offers of admission to universities across the nation was fast approaching. My daughter had been accepted to four colleges, but Virginia Tech was her top choice by far. In the face of the largest shooting massacre by an individual in U.S. history, should my husband and I allow her to go to VT?

Only two weeks ago, over the weekend of April 14-15, my daughter and I had driven the 270 miles from our home in northern Frederick County, Md., to Blacksburg for "Hokie Focus." The program was an opportunity for accepted prospective VT students to visit the school before making their acceptance formal. My daughter already had her mind made up. This was her chance to persuade her parents to pay out-of-state tuition to Tech.

Over the festive, event-filled weekend we were entertained by the Marching Virginians pep band and the Hokie Bird. We were told that the incoming freshman class has the highest GPA and SAT scores ever and were given details of the campus's vibrant student life. We snacked on Hokie cookies and juices. We were treated to a tour of the barns, because my daughter wants to study equine science. We found the atmosphere remarkably warm and friendly for such a large institution. We felt like part of the Hokie family.

Back at home on Monday, April 16, it was devastating to watch the news as Tech administrators attempted to explain and absorb the horror unfolding on the campus. My daughter and I were stunned to learn that the first victims were an equine science major, Emily Hilscher, and Marching Virginians baritone horn player Ryan Clark.

In this time of piercing grief, the VT students themselves led the nation out of darkness. We love this school . . . We would never think of leaving Blacksburg, many said. My daughter studied the students' faces as, one after another, they expressed their desire to remain at Tech. She turned from the television and said, "I can't let one person ruin my dreams."

The week passed in a fog as the deadline for the deposit approached. Friends, neighbors, relatives, our pastor, my daughter's riding instructor and others called to make sure we weren't still in Blacksburg -- and to ask of our intentions.

Some were astonished that my daughter still considered attending Tech. But most offered reassurance. We realized that the tragedy is more a reflection of the society we live in than of the school the slain attended.

Like most high school seniors, my daughter resides between two worlds, in the nebula between preparation for high school graduation and the start of college. The shootings painfully pulled her worlds farther apart. At our church and her school, she prayed for the victims.

But she longed to join the thousands of Hokies on the Drillfield at the April 17 prayer service for the victims. She wanted to show her support by wearing her VT sweatshirt and singing "Amazing Grace" and holding a candle high on that dark night. Instead, she was stuck here, doing her high school homework.

She has worn orange and maroon ribbons in her hair and her Virginia Tech sweatshirt to school. She knows that one tormented soul displaying his hatred of humanity should not and cannot diminish the legacies of the victims or the university.

My husband and I have concluded that our beautiful fledgling was created by God for this moment, to be a member of the Virginia Tech 2007-08 freshman class. The class will be a sign to all of us that life must go forward. She will join her classmates and, per the university's motto, which predates the shooting by a year, "Invent the Future."

Hold her spot, VT. The check is in the mail.


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