The following letter was sent to the Margaret Faust, Director of Alumni Relations at Catawba College on Thursday, April 19th from Sue Mensinger Stewart '74. Sue serves Virginia Tech as the Assistant to the Associate VP for Enterprise Systems (a division of Information Systems). What began as a simple emailed request for her Catawba family to support her current academic family by a show of VT colors on Friday, April 20th turned into a lovely sharing of Hokie hope. Please read the following as we get a glimpse at how, even in the most horrific of circumstances, comes resiliency and hope:
"This really is a very sad time here at VT, yet in the midst of the sorrow I can see embers of hope and unity. One of the things I have learned the past few days is that the faculty & staff are very much a part of this VT family. If a student can express love and support for VT during the 40 -50 months they spend here, just image the love an employee has for this institution who is here 40 hours a week for years on end. We might be a huge university but I sense our hearts are embracing our fellow hokies one at a time; nameless faces for the most part and all sharing our grief and looking to each other for help.
What a great place to call home! I walked away from both the memorial service and the candlelight vigil Tuesday night with a single phrase in my head - I am so proud to be a part of the Hokie nation.
I don't expect any quick fixes and I do believe more grief will sink in as the days go forward but the VT community is positively united down here in Blacksburg. Both English professors who tried to help the gunman 15 months ago are super people – Professors Giovanni & Roy. I have heard the latter speak on 2 occasions. Impeccable reputations; both are well known. But you know they have to sleep at night too. They did what they needed to do and I support their decision to open tell what they knew of the gunman. I support them both; as I do President Steger. What courage they have. I met a young VT policeman in the 7/11 store this morning. We got our coffee together and had a short conversation. I could see how tired he was and he indicated as much but added that he was okay with being tired. He wanted to know if I was okay. I said I was. I placed my hand on his shoulder and thanked him for being here and for what a great job he and the other officers were doing. We exchanged smiles and went on our separate ways.
I guess my biggest concern is for the student whose best support system is here at school. The semester ends in a couple weeks and they will leave for the summer. I hope these students I speak of find the support they need when they need it. Certainly emails and text messaging is something, but nothing can replace the sight of a loving smile or a hug from someone they care about.
Friday is Hokie Day – if you think of it – wear something orange and/or maroon.
We would appreciate it. Tell your friends too!
I remember a few words from Robert Fulgham's poem which was so popular back in the late 80's. –
...let's hold hands and stick together...
We will do just that. "
Sue Mensinger Stewart '74