What started off as a normal day would turn into something completely different not only for me but the entire Shaw family on April 16. My day started with a meeting with our sorority graduate chapter at the graduate house only minutes from school. What I thought would be a rather long meeting, turned into a short gathering with a rush for all members to leave and get to their home safely before the storm. Like many young students, my sisters and I did not take the tornado warning as serious as we later found out we should.
We returned to the school thinking we would have a movie day while the weather was nasty outside, but needless to say the movie never came close to the DVD player. As soon as everyone assembled in my room for our movie day, we were told to hurry to the stairwell to get away from all windows. Of course taking our time to get to our destination, we were put in a panic when the lights turned off and the dorm became completely dark. We then knew that this was more serious than we thought.
As we rushed to exit my room we saw something that I will never forget. Two doors down from my room was a window that only a few minutes later would turn into pieces of glass. My sisters and I looked at the window as we saw the tornado right before us making the glass shake. In a panic we ran to the bathroom and entered a stall to take cover, only seconds later to hear the crash of the window. Thankful to have made it to safety in time emotions began to evolve. Other girls in our dorm began to enter the bathroom all in a panic and unsure what to do, or what was next.
After minutes have passed we all decided to exit the bathroom to try to get with others. All the damages we saw in the dorm alone were unreal. We patiently waited in the dorm for what seemed forever due to the scare of another possible tornado coming our way. During our wait, I received a phone call telling me there were damages to my car, at the time my car was the least of my concern.
Finally after we were notified that it was over and it was okay to start moving around, we all started to go around campus to look at damages, including my car. My back window of my car busted out and had a lot of rock damage. My sisters and friends all helped me and each other to cover our windows and anything else. After we took care of our personal belongings we went over to main campus, because their was news circulating that the main campus underwent the worst hit. I don’t think I could have ever imagined what I saw when I arrived to main campus.
Walking around main campus seeing our student union, the dorms, and trees uprooted laying there had all of us in disbelief. My school that I take so much pride in was torn apart. I can’t come up with words on how seeing my school in this condition made me feel. At the time I knew I had to be strong for my sisters and others. Some of my sisters have never experienced a tornado so being there for them was my main priority. While walking through campus I made sure friends and classmates were okay, and they had a place to stay because I knew none of us could return to the dorms. Seeing everybody walk around with their things looking at damages reminded me of a movie or something on television, I never thought this would be my reality.
As time has passed and emotions have settled, I know that Shaw will be okay. All of my worries and concerns have ceased and now I have turned all the negatives into positives. This situation makes me think of a famous poem entitled Invictus by William Ernest Henley and one of the lines, “my head is bloody but unbowed…”. Although Shaw’s head may be bloody we are unbowed, this setback is setting us up for major comeback.
I never pictured having my senior year end like this. Being forced to pack up my dorm room within a few days of the storm because the school was closing for the rest of the year, leaving behind memories so quick, and not getting to say goodbye to people I may never see again is not an option I would have picked. Even though this was my senior year and I will not be returning to Shaw in the fall, I will forever be a Shaw Bear and I will do whatever it takes to make sure my school comes back better than ever. I look at this tornado as another memory I will have while a student a Shaw.
April 16, a day to remember, a day that created the NEW Shaw University!
Kristen Brown is a graduating senior at Shaw University. A native from Mount Olive, North Carolina, Kristen is a Mass Communications major with a concentration in journalism. She is currently co-editor of The Bear Facts, an online student newspaper at Shaw, she is also the secretary for the Theta Chi chapter of the National Broadcast Society on campus. Kristen is also a member of the Beta Rho chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. After graduation Kristen plans to pursue a career as a public relations specialist.