Friday, April 15, 2011

What is a Hokie?

A passage by Lady of the Ball ... very similiar to my story and how all Hokies feel. We love our school, we love our community, and we pride ourselves on reactions to this great loss. I will forever by thankful to be a Hokie.

I’m sitting here and I can’t help thinking that I just don’t have the words for this week. I’m one of the Hokies in an awkward situation. I wasn’t a student on April 16th, 2007. I hadn’t even applied to Virginia Tech yet.

I remember watching the news on my calculus teacher’s television, a Hokie Alumnae. At the time, all I knew of Virginia Tech was that I liked their football team—thanks to Mike Vick and it was a good engineering school, a profession I thought I could enjoy one day.

I’ve always had a somewhat addictive personality and when the events of April 16th unfolded, I had to know more. I needed to know more about the people it had affected, I needed to know more about why it had happened to such a quiet community up in the mountains (except during football season, of course). On that day, I took to the library. I hopped on a computer and I read the news as it came in.I watched the death toll rise to 32. I watched the number of people injured climb to 25, not including those who had been mentally and emotionally scarred. As I continued this research, I began to learn more about Virginia Tech—before April 16th, 2007.

It was on that day, watching the tragedy unravel that I began to learn about Virginia Tech’s incredible past, their potential for the future and that I decided I wanted to be a Hokie. I applied to Virginia Tech, as soon as I could, in the Fall of 2007 and was accepted in March 2008. After one rather quick discussion about out-of-state tuition with my parents, my deposit was sent in.

Since I became a student at Virginia Tech, not only have I learned more about that incredible past but I’ve learned about our traditions, our successes, our strengths, our few weaknesses, but most of all—I’ve learned what it is to be a Hokie. Everytime I tell someone that I attend Virginia Tech, they ask me what a Hokie is…but how do you explain that to someone?

How do you tell someone that has never been to Blacksburg that a Hokie is not a Turkey, that it’s not really even a bird. A Hokie is a state of mind. It’s a sense of community. It’s a feeling of pride. It stretches from our football fields to our classrooms, from our undergraduate programs to our graduate studies, from our Greek Life to our Res Life, and, physically, from War Memorial Chapel to Lane Stadium and back to the Duck Pond. Being a Hokie is about consistently being the#1 Collegiate Relay For Life, it’s about Hokie Camp and The Ring Dance and SGA and the #1 Panhellenic Council in the Nation, being a Hokie is about an unconditional love for our little town tucked away in a deep valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

So, here’s my challenge to you. As this week passes, you may hear of April 16th in small talk throughout your day or on the news for the anniversary, or you may not hear of it at all, but I challenge you to learn something else about Virginia Tech. There is nothing that kills a Hokie more than Google Image searching “Virginia Tech,” looking for a picture of iconic Burruss Hall or Torg Bridge or Lane Stadium and instead, finding the man whose hands killed 32 of our dear Hokies as the very first picture.

As I continue my education at Virginia Tech: I’ll pass the April 16th Memorial a few thousand times more, I’ll take a few classes in Norris Hall, and I’ll always wake up every single day Thanking God that I’m a Hokie.

Judge us not by our tragedies, but instead of the triumph over our adversities.

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