My heart reaches out to all the victims and families of the recent shootouts at Virginia Tech. In two separate incidents, gunman Cho Seung-Hui, a 23 year old student killed 32 students and professors before shooting himself. Two people of Indian origin - Professor G V Loganathan who hailed from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu and first year masters student of architecture Minal Panchal from Bombay were also killed.
I have been very deeply affected by the tragedy. For the last two days, I have not been able to concentrate on anything other than the tragedy. I keep tuning in to the news, both on the television as well as on the net. Being a student at a large university, roughly the size of Virginia Tech makes things almost real. I can imagine how vulnerable we are to such an event here too. I can identify with how the university community at VTech feels right now. But the fact that I almost went to Virginia Tech and would have been there right now had I chosen it two years ago makes dealing with this tragedy even harder.
Two years ago, while finishing my undergrad, I had applied to schools to pursue a graduate degree. After being admitted to six schools, I narrowed the list down to two. The two schools I was choosing between were Virginia Tech and University of Utah. I had received funding from both schools and they were both pretty equally ranked. I was too undecided about my research interests at the time to make a decision sitting at home from their web pages. So I decided to visit both.
I had received an offer from both schools to visit their campus. I declined VT's offer because it was my last semester in undergrad and the visit weekend coincided with some really hard deadlines in my course work. I could attend the University of Utah's prospective grad student weekend the next week. I learned a lot about the school and met the people, who were all great and loved the mountains that surround the salt lake valley. But in my heart I didn't feel like making an unfair decision after visiting only one university.
So I emailed people at VT and decided to drive out there the next weekend. I visited the campus, met a lot of people. I loved the campus - the buildings are all made out of Hokie stone and look so pretty. It is a beautiful campus. But it is located in Blacksburg which is a small town, almost like the town I was already in doing my undergrad. I wanted to move out to a slightly bigger city and Salt Lake won there. But that was not the deal clincher. There were two or three professors whose research interested me but overall the grad student and research atmosphere at Utah looked better. That clinched the deal and I decided to choose Utah over Virginia Tech.
I keep thinking where I would be today, had I chosen the other. I am not sure that I would have been one of the people in Norris Hall had I chosen VT. But I am sure my life would have taken a very different path in many ways than it has here. It just keeps coming back to my mind, the choices we make at every turn and how they change every single that follows.
I hope no body has to go through what the people who witnessed the massacre had to go through every. More so, I hope no family has to go through what the families of the victims are going through today. My heart-felt condolences go out to everyone affected by the tragedy.
Tagged: Virginia Tech, Thoughts