Katie Alberti

For students at Virginia Tech, normal life seems unobtainable

An ROTC student comforts another during a memorial ceremony at Virginia Tech. AMANDA SOWARDS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

BLACKSBURG, Va. – I cannot write what words can’t express. You will all be remembered. Always remembered, God speed. Go Hokies! We love u. Loganathan, you were the best teacher there ever was. RIP. You will all live on in the hearts of Hokie. Our prayers are with your families.

These are the phrases found on a memorial in the drill field at Virginia Tech. Between prayers and writing personal messages, students sat down in the field near Norris Hall, where the majority of the deaths occurred, to reflect on Monday’s incidents.

“It’s weird. It’s still weird,” said Brandon Stiltner, a senior aerospace engineering major who helped create the memorial.

Stiltner, along with his roommate, Jonathan Hess, senior mechanical engineering major, said they made the memorial as a way to boost morale around campus.

Despite their attempt, Hess said it’s going to be difficult when school commences next week – especially during his graduation ceremony in three weeks.

“I just can’t imagine walking out in a cap and gown when these people, who worked just as hard as I did, were killed,” he said.

His opinion was mirrored by other students.

Senior economics major Graham Newell, who was at the drill field when the shootings happened at Norris Hall, said graduation will be different.

“I can imagine things will be somber,” he said. “(People) at graduation will have mixed emotions.”

In addition, students said it’s going to take some time before the reality of the situation sinks in for them.

Mike Watkins, senior electrical engineering major, said everyone needs to time to relax and reflect on Monday’s tragedy.

“Everybody’s in shock,” he said. “It’ll be another week before it hits.”

Freshman engineering major Nick Pantelides agreed – adding next year will have a completely different feel than this year.

“Next year, it’ll calm down,” he said. “It’ll be as close to normal as you can get.”

Although the majority of people on campus were visibly upset, students stayed close together, supporting each other after experiencing the deadliest shooting in America’s history on their campus.

And as senior biochemistry major Matt Watkins said of the tragedy, “Today, everyone’s a Hokie.”

Contact public affairs reporter Katie Alberti at [email protected].