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Friday, May 11, 2007
Virginia Tech student lucky to be graduating
Three-and-a-half weeks after a crazed gunman killed 32 innocent people at Virgina Tech, we are walking around the campus as the university gets ready for commencement.

Proud parents stroll alongside their graduating children on a day where they all deserve to laugh and have fun. But understandably, there is a solemn feeling on campus. Instead of the normal string of frivolities during a graduation weekend, most families are subdued and paying respect at the various memorials around campus.

One such family is the Walsh family of Binghamton, New York. Theresa Walsh is getting her bachelors degree in math and her family is proud. There are also oh, so grateful.

That's because Theresa had a gun pointed at her by Seung-Hui Cho. She was in class in Norris Hall when she heard gunshots. She told me she then went into the hallway. Seconds later, Cho came out of a classroom and saw her. She says he raised his gun and fired at her from about four feet away.

Cho missed, and Theresa ran back into the classroom and warned everybody. Students held the door and Cho fired through the door twice. He then left Theresa's class alone, she says.

Nobody in that class was hurt. Theresa told me her frightening story on Virginia Tech's drillfield as her parents watched and winced. They know how lucky they are that their daughter is graduating tonight.

-- By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 2:51 PM ET
  12 Comments
Gary,
Theresa Walsh is an extremely lucky woman. I hope that she graduates and is able to put this behind her and not let this be a thing that always haunts her. I wish her well and much happiness in her life!

You didn't say if this would be a report that is on tonight or not. I hope so...looking forward to seeing it.
Posted By Cynthia, Covington, Ga. : 3:16 PM ET
Gary/AC360:
Virginia Tech's graduation milestones will be different this year; the biggest milestones were to survive the face of a killer, to face the death of a friend, and to leave a campus marked by such a horrific tragedy.

It would be interesting to hear from the 2007 Virginia Tech graduates in five years and see how one horrible day in the spring of 2007 may have unexpectedly changed their paths in life.

Thank you for the report on Virginia Tech's graduation.
Posted By Sharon D., Indianapolis, IN : 3:34 PM ET
Theresa Walsh is very lucky. I only hope she can get best this very troubling time and the rest of VA can get back to normal. Though I dont know if normal will be a thing of the past for VA Tech. Like they say,"time heals all wounds".
Posted By sherry, cleveland,oh : 4:40 PM ET
Hello Gary,
Life is so strange. No matter how much we try to figure out how it all works, we never really do. I believe that our answers to the big questions about life will not come until we are gone from this world. Until then, all we can understand is that we have a limited time here and that we have absolutely no way of knowing when our time is up. We are not watching sand pass throug our own hour glass are we? We should all live each day to the fullest, and act as if this is the only day we will have. It's not about quanity, it's quality. That's the best we can do.
Theresa's story gave me chills. Who knows why some are taken and some are spared? All of those who perrished that fearful and dismal day at Virginia Tech were living. Living full quality lives. I hope they can be remembered by the lives they touched and by the footprints they left behind.
I think it is important to remember that the biggest fear is for those who never even begin to live their lives. Those who never dare to reach out, to care. They never really exist do they? What a tragic waste.
I wish the best for these graduating students and ALL of Virginia Tech. They are in my heartfelt prayers as the commencement begins.
God Bless~
Posted By Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX : 4:40 PM ET
I just marched in my own graduation and the minute before a fellow student said to me 'imagine Virginia tech today and how hard that was'- it made us pause and think that life ours to embrace because those poor kids won't get the chance.
Posted By Anni NY : 5:02 PM ET
How cancer has affected Miles Levin's goals and outlook on life, I'd be interested to find out how Theresa and other VA survivors goals have changed and what their outlook is. We all take for granted that there is going to be a tomorrow and unfortunately tomorrow doesn't always come so what would we all do differently in our lives? I myself don't take my job as seriously as I use to because it doesn't involve saving a life rather making other people richer. I let my family and friends know how much I appreciate them at least once a month if not once a week.
Posted By Mei Lan, Costa Mesa, CA : 5:32 PM ET
Dear Gary,

Thank you for all of your sensitive and thoughtful reporting on the tragedy at Va Tech.

I was saddened by Theresa Walsh's story. It is such a shame that she and the rest of the graduating seniors at Va Tech must have their commencement marked by such a tragic event. Theresa and her classmates were very fortunate.

I wish her and all of the other students at Va Tech the best of luck!

Take care,
Jo Ann
Posted By Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 6:01 PM ET
Hey Gary,
Their is a passage in a novel by James Patterson,"Letter for Nicolas" that stuck with me.I made a photocopy and it is on my board at work. I'm citing by memory here,but it goes something like this:
"In life,we are always joggling with 5 balls. They are called,Health,Family,Friends,Integrity and Work. The "Work" ball is made of rubber. Drop it and it will bounce back.The other four are made of glass. Drop it and it will be broken for ever."
My toughts and prayers with VA Tech family. As the students prepare to embark on their journey,I hope that the families of the victims will find a path to healing.And that the souls of all the victims taken so brutally,will find the light.

Joanne R.
Laval Quebec
Posted By Joanne R.Laval QUebec : 7:25 PM ET
33 people were shot dead, not 32, the 33rd being Cho Seung-Hui, I see him as a victim too, someone who fell through the cracks of the mental health system and crawled out a "monster" of sorts. Nothing will ever justify what he did, but he needed help long before this was ever an idea in his head, and the people that were supposed to be helping him and monitoring him failed him. I'm glad that there was a felling of hope among the graduates, and that they have begun the healing process, but I also wonder how Hui's family is holding up, I wonder if they also, are begining to heal.
Posted By Naomi Mac Millan, Island Park, NY : 8:03 AM ET
The graudates O V.Tec showed their state, this country and the World their strength and faith driven dtermination. They showed their movement forward, but have not forgotten thier fallen colleges.
Graudation was a honorable day for all at V.Tech. It shows the world in our darkness hours in this country we will prevail.
Posted By Mike, uptown New Orleans La : 9:21 AM ET
Hi, Gary,

In the midst of struggling to come to terms with the awful tragedy that struck Virginia Tech that day, and too the scars that will follow the survivors for the rest of their lives, please keep in mind that many of the students who graduated that day have dealt with some sort of mental illness, or are dealing with one at present, and not become a rampage killer. I keep hearing stories about banning mentally ill students from campus, or even from attending college altogether.

Handcuffing people who have mental illness as "potental killers" is not the answer. Treating mental disease successfully will never come about until we learn to treat those who have it with compassion. I speak from experience. The worst part of having to go to a shrink wasn't the shrink, or even the disease. It was the way the world looked back. It made the sense of isolation so much worse.

This might sound strange, but I think we all have the potential to become a rampage killer. Isolating those who seem "different" will only increase the odds of that happening. Let's face it, if the young man who murdered his fellow students didn't care about "fitting in", he wouldn't have had the rage. He wanted to fit in so badly he was willing to kill just to fit any niche, any niche, at all. It was like if he couldn't get into their hearts, then he would get "into" them somehow...this time, with his bullets. So sad. I'm not saying he shouldn't have gotten treatment. Obviously, he needed it. But I think he feared the stigma too much. Such a vicious cycle. Doesn't everybody just want to fit in??

He had a life, a graduation day, ahead of him, too. If only...if only...psychological teatment was "mandatory" at the high school and college level. That way, nobody'd seem "different".
Posted By Lori, Wheeling, WV : 7:56 PM ET
Psychiatrists, physicians and mental health specialists should use the Medical Information Board database to flag patients who exhibit the tell-tale signs that they could become a shooter. Gun shops and weapon dealers should make the MIB part of their background checks and shut-down these people before they buy a weapon.
Posted By Darrin Cheraso San Antonio, TX : 10:27 PM ET
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