top of page

#UNLVStrong

My personal experience and resources have been separated into two sections. If you are only interested in the resources, it is sectioned off from my personal experience. My hope is that however you use this blog post, whether it is not to feel alone or to find resources, you find something of use. 


A UNLV Student’s Personal Experience


It’s tough being a UNLV student right now.


You have so many people telling their unwarranted opinions about the shooting, and you have to sit there and exist. You could be so disconnected from everything, trying to forget about it, and the minute you say you're a UNLV student, suddenly you’re a spectacle.


Perhaps it is because people do not know how to react properly. I think this issue impacts the people who weren’t on campus more. People do not tend to show you sympathy when you say you weren’t there. People do not understand that no matter how far you were from the campus, you were still waiting to see when this nightmare would be over.


It is so hard to exist right now. I am a person who is averse to feeling all the negative emotions I need to feel. I try my hardest to escape the negative feelings. I try my hardest to avoid it.


However, it is hard to avoid it once you see red plastered everywhere you go. It is hard when you are bombarded with #unlvstrong everywhere you go.


I wish that the reason we ended up on national news would have been for our diversity, our students, our rich culture, our education, our cool events, and just anything other than this.


I think about when I was a freshman at UNLV—I was going to be there to get my degree and graduate to move on to better things. In the years that followed, I could have never imagined that I would get so involved in my college and the UNLV community. I would have never thought that I would meet such amazing people who made me the person I am today. At a time, the UNLV community is where I’d find comfort and safety.


I think the destruction of that comfort and safety absolutely ripped my heart to shreds.


How is it possible to feel so heartbroken every time you take a breath? How is it possible to grieve so intensely?


I grieve for my classmates’ sanity. I grieve for their safety. I grieve for how much of their sleep has been stolen. I grieve for the echoing in their brains that were never there before. I grieve for their hope and positivity. I grieve and grieve and grieve, but how much grief is too much? How much grief is left until there is nothing left to grieve?


I do not care to live in the past. Honestly, as a history major, I should truly wallow in it. As a person, I can not fathom how we will move forward.However, for some ungodly reason, I can not seem to stop moving. I can not sit here and wait any longer.These thoughts have not left my head, and I can not stand here to listen anymore. I can not keep my mouth shut when I know I am not the only one hurting.


I think about my friends who were forced to barricade themselves in rooms where they were meant to learn. I think about my friends who had posted all over social media to let the world know they were safe. I think about my friends who didn't know whether the next breath they took would be their last. I think about them. I constantly think about them.


I can not imagine their pain. I can only hear it out.


Yet, I still feel the pain in every single part of my body.


I know why. I wasn’t in survival mode. I was at home. While they had to worry about their well-being, I worried about when the next text message sent from UNLV would be an end to the madness. I worried about every single person I had interacted with in my time at UNLV. In the worst ways possible, I mapped their locations in my head, trying to figure out how close or how far they were from the shooting. In my head, the closer they were, the more I prodded an answer from them.


What I remember most vividly from the shooting was spending hours of my life waiting to hear from my friends, waiting to hear any sign of life, waiting for anything from them to let me know they were okay.


When the shooting was over, I expected myself to take a big sigh of relief like a weight was lifted off of me. I have never felt so heavy in my entire life.


How do you move on from something so unbelievably tragic, from something that was never supposed to happen?


You don’t move on alone.


The UNLV community, and at large, the Las Vegas community never ceases to amaze me. We band together even when we have never agreed before. There seems to be no barrier between us that seems to exist as we grieve. We hurt as a whole. We grieve as a whole. We heal as a whole.


The best and worst part about any traumatic event is that it seems to bring the community closer together, but only when something is so terrible that you can not go through the healing process alone.


I am happy that CCSD, the Strip, and all the local Las Vegas communities seemed to be powering up a red wave, or rather a scarlet wave, in the days after the shooting.


I am happy that there is so much love and support, but there is so much sadness and anger that comes about when I think about the reasons that wave existed in the first place.


I get overwhelmed with sadness realizing that Dr. Patricia Navarro Velez, Dr. Cha Jan “Jerry” Chang, and Dr. Naoko Takemaru came into work that day, thinking it was just another day.


However, it does not match the rage that I felt when I knew the shooter’s name, face, education, motive, and LinkedIn before I could name one victim. It does not match the anxiety that I felt when I was waiting for everyone to tell me they were finally safe.It does not match the sadness that I felt when I realized that UNLV would never be the same again. Nothing matches the magnitude of the destruction of life, safety, and joy in a community.


I get anxious when I don’t reply to a GroupMe message as soon as possible now. It was the mass line of communication that I had with the people on campus whom I held closest to my heart. It was the only way that I could know that they were safe, that their feelings were valid, and that they were not alone.


I remember telling someone, after they explained how they got people to safety,,  “You probably saved a lot of people doing that.”


Then I remember crying right after. No one needs to be told that. No one needs to know that they saved people’s lives when something so awful happened. No one needs to accept the fact that there was a possibility of death knocking at their classroom door.


I know all of the faculty and staff at UNLV are trying their hardest to be strong for their students. You don’t have to be. You are human, too. Take care of yourself, too.


I know that all of the students are trying to wrap their heads around this. I know some people like me who were at home feel like they can not be sad because they were not there. You are allowed to be sad. No matter how close or far away you were during that time, you were still affected. You are allowed to feel. Your feelings are valid.


For all of the students who were on campus, any reaction you had was a valid reaction. You were not overreacting or underreacting. You were trying to survive in any way you could. You were doing what you felt was right. Never beat yourself up for that. You survived, and I’m grateful you are here.


I feel like there is so much more to say, yet I sit here speechless. I feel like nothing I have written at this time feels right. Perhaps that is because there is no right response to these things. There is no right response to these things because these things are not normal. They never will be normal, no matter how many times we see it. It is not normal.


Spend time with the people who bring you comfort. Spend time with the people you need to heal. Spend time allowing yourself to be human.


Letting yourself feel is the most human thing to do.


Resources


A variety of resources have been made available to those impacted by the UNLV shooting.


As of right now, there is an active petition to make UNLV a closed campus that garnered the attention of Change.org. Lisandro Zamora, who made the petition, has been asked by the organization to get petition signers to make a video detailing why they decided to sign, using the phrase, “I signed because…”. If you are interested in sending in a video, please email Lisandroz2005@gmail.com.


Continuously Updated Resources


Pro-Bono Counseling


Mental Health Resources


While this list of resources may not be the most comprehensive, these are some notable and readily available resources within the UNLV and Las Vegas communities. If you know of more resources, please feel free to share them in the comments below.






About the Author


Kahleia is in her junior year at UNLV, and currently majoring in History! She hopes to go into Public History post-graduation to help make history understandable and digestible for the general public. At school, she is part of the Dean’s Student Advisory Council (DSAC) for the College of Liberal Arts (COLA) which is a student-led organization that works to act as the voice for COLA undergraduate students. Also, for the last 5 years, she has been working at the Discovery Children’s Museum in a variety of positions, especially in their Birthdays department. She has had a passion for writing since she was in elementary school, and she was involved in journalism in elementary school and high school where she was the Editor-in-Chief.




Tags:

0 comments

Related Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page