October 2017

Las Vegas teaser image
Las Vegas.  The news came like a punch to the stomach early Monday morning.  A seemingly impossible way to start the week.  How were we to go on with our now-menial tasks knowing that so many were prevented from going on with their lives?  An act of complete evil, hatred, inhumanity.  Why?  How?  What now?

The massacre shooting in Las Vegas was heinous.  On so many levels, it is deeply disturbing.  I believe I can make the generality that it gripped, and continues to grip us all.  As more information surfaces about the victims, their lives, and the events of Sunday night, the heartache grows, rather than subsiding with time.  These innocent individuals’ lives went from joy and enthusiasm to terror and chaos, or for some, to an end.  I think of the communities of love around each individual involved; their waiting and their pain.  With such a tragedy of ever-increasing proportions, there is really no escape from the reality and sorrow.  I am sobered too by the acknowledgement that my grief is inconsequential in comparison to that of those personally entangled in this horror.  Their lives are forever altered.  My thoughts and prayers are continually with those involved. 

All of this too in the wake of so many other life-destroying tragedies across the world.  So many of our neighbors are hurting and in need.  When tragedies aren’t afflicting, politics are dividing.  There seems to be no rest…no peace.  Something must be done. 

When I started graduate school at TAMU, I resolved that I would simply come, “keep my head down” in focus on my studies, and get done.  I always planned to serve others again once my busy schedule slowed down and I graduated.  However, as I’m touched by the stories of sacrifice, heroism, and love from Sunday night, I’m realizing that my plan of complete focus on my studies is nothing more than selfish.  I wanted a cop-out to ignore the needs of others as much as possible for the next two and a half years.  In many ways, graduate school can be a very self-absorbed time.  We must complete our research, “sell” our results, and most importantly, “sell” ourselves.  Perhaps you too can relate to this mindset. 

I’ve come to realize, however, that none of us can afford 2, 4, 6, etc. years of selfishness.  This hurting world…our community…. cannot afford it.  Maybe some of us “don’t have time” to reach out to the needs of others.  I understand that graduate school is a stressful and busy time.  When will we break this habit and decide our schedules are open enough to make the time to serve?  We must make time now.  If the only thing we have contributed to the world at the end of our time in graduate school is research, then we have far from fulfilled our purpose as the up-and-coming leaders of this world. 

What can we do?  There is need around each of us….I guarantee it.   Someone near you needs someone to listen- taking away from that precious thesis-writing time.  Someone near you needs a ride.  Someone near you needs emotional comfort and support.  Someone near you has physical, tangible needs-graduate students are poor, but there is always someone who has less than us.  Someone near you needs someone to pour into and invest in their lives because no one has done so before.  There are so many more ways, but I am struck by how much our own communities need us to be self-less…even during crazy graduate school. 

No, these actions do not take away the pain, the hurt, or the suffering being felt in the wake of Las Vegas or any of the other recent tragedies.  If only it could.  Living a life of sacrifice and giving does, however make a difference.  I believe our purpose and impact should transcend our research.  We cannot become desensitized to the hurt and needs of others so that we can achieve our academic and professional goals.  We cannot cop-out because of our schedules.  Needs and hurts abound.  Will we be the ones to choose selflessness and love on the individuals who are in need and hurting near us?  It is the very least we can do

Heather Hannusch

Heather is a masters candidate in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.


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