Column: Three years after being shot at school, this teen has made our survival her fight song.
Three years ago this month, I was in the middle of a class discussion about the importance of being safe in school when a male classmate shot at me. As I later learned, he had been stalking me for months. I had taken to being hypervigilant and I made no apologies for it. Every now and then, he would stalk me when I walked to class. He would stand in my path, and a quick movement of my hand would reveal him to be wearing a hooded sweatshirt or a mask. Sometimes he would try to follow me as I walked through campus, even though I’d given a verbal warning. The shooting I had witnessed only strengthened my resolve to be safe.
But three years ago, what felt like a small thing to me, was a life-long nightmare for this young man.
Today, if asked to describe the man I lost, I would likely say he was a nice kid. He was a member of several extracurricular clubs, who hung out in the student union, was a fan of the local sports teams (a college football team, a hockey team and a basketball team) and was a hard worker. He was a star athlete and was captain of his high school basketball team. He was smart enough to become my math teacher and was a good one. He was one of the only two students who had accepted me into their course and he was the only one who sat in the front row and actually listened to my voice. He was a very good student and he always got As when I had graded his exams. When I taught a mathematics class at a local university, he had volunteered to help me grade the classes. And when he was a junior at his local high school, he went on a leadership trip through Japan to introduce Americans to Japanese culture. He was an exemplary high school student and one of the few that I felt could go pro. He was just too nice of a kid for a serial killer.
I was never really sure why the man shot me. I suspect that he wanted me dead because I had seen him stalking me. I suspect that he was so caught up in his own rage that he could not see how it could get any worse for him. But I know that in my heart of hearts, I had given this man my heart,