I grew up in Colorado, and was only a few years old when the shooting at Columbine High School happened, just 6 miles from my house. Years later, when I was a sophomore in high school, the Aurora Theater shooting happened 12 miles from me. Despite the proximity of these two tragedies, gun violence was always a thing that happened elsewhere, not to me. But then the unthinkable and unpredictable happened–there was a shooting at my own high school when I was a junior. A fellow classmate walked into school armed with hundreds of rounds of ammo and Molotov cocktails, intent on harming many teachers. Instead, he shot and killed another student, Claire. Just hallways away, I was huddled in a corner of my math classroom with all of my peers, absolutely terrified.
My whole life changed after that day, in many varying ways. As silly as it may sound, one of the biggest things that changed was the way I compose myself in school. I always sit so that I can see the door. I always think of where I would hide or run if a shooter were to come in. I am hyper-aware of who is in the class and how they are acting. My entire experience of education has been altered because of one act of violence with a gun. I am graduating from college this year, and as I leave school, I have become intent on working towards gun violence prevention as the co-president of the Students Demand Action chapter at Notre Dame so that others’ experiences of school don’t have to change like mine did.