Odyssey Impact: A Student Recounts A Harrowing Shooting At Saginaw Valley State

Odyssey Impact: A Student Recounts A Harrowing Shooting At Saginaw Valley State

Miah Cooper doesn't let violence define her community.
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Imagine attending a party at an apartment complex across from campus, and suddenly hearing gunshots just a few feet from where you’re standing.

Saginaw Valley State University student Miah Cooper found herself in the midst of a shooting around 1:50 a.m. on Sunday, September 11, and escaped the premises unscathed while five others were injured.

Almost a thousand people attended the party and quickly scattered after the gunman opened fire. A few hundred people, Cooper included, were eyewitnesses, and stayed to give their accounts to police. “I didn’t get home until after 4:30 a.m.,” Cooper said.

She woke up at 11 a.m., distressed. Her first instinct was to retell what happened on Odyssey, and to start the healing process of her community. “I felt compelled to write about it,” she said.

She submitted her post within two hours.

Cooper’s mission was not only to unify the student body, but also to give peace of mind to worried parents and grandparents:

My school is my safe place. My school is not dangerous. My school is not violent, but the world is. So on this day — and every day — I stand with my Saginaw Valley State University — because we are Cardinal Strong.

“I felt that the way I’d worded it, it would be able to help so many people who were there who were scared,” she said. “My biggest concern was that yes, it was scary, but that didn’t make me any less proud of being at SVSU.”

Within the next 24 hours, her story was resonating so much with other SVSU students and faculty that they started sharing the article on social media. Cooper, whose only intention was to help heal those who had been affected by the shooting, was blown away to find her article was garnering thousands of shares within just a few days of being posted.

“I didn’t expect a thousand shares and I definitely didn’t expect 7,000.”

Multiple students, alumni and family members of SVSU students and faculty thanked Cooper in Facebook comments and messages for helping ease their fears about the shooting, and for reminding them that SVSU is still an incredible place.


“This is such a beautiful article and you have empowered many to not live in fear but to put biases aside and come together with their Cardinal Family to always protect and look out for one another,” commented reader Ally Smith.

As several news outlets reported on the shooting, ABC12 approached Cooper directly about her Odyssey post, and requested an interview with her.

“I felt pretty great being on the news and the way my story got shared,” Cooper said. “A lot of people now recognize me, and I have no idea who they are. They’ll be like ‘You were the girl who wrote about the shooting,’ and they’ll read my other articles and say ‘I love the one you wrote about your dad.’”

After Cooper’s interview, the dean of her college quickly recognized her as a true leader on campus and invited her to his office.

Cooper, whose major is secondary education with a minor in communications, was previously told she may not graduate on time because her minor was not considered “teachable.”

After her visit, the dean made some connections and adjusted the program so Cooper could graduate on time.

“He said ‘I could tell the way you write, the way you talk in the news, that there needs to be a teacher like you in the world.’ That wouldn’t have happened for me had it not been for Odyssey.”

Almost a month later, Cooper is continuing to make an impact with recent Odyssey articles like “For All You Boys With Baby Sisters” and “20 Things I’ve Learned Before 21,” but her coverage on the shooting forever proved how powerful her voice could be.

“To be given a platform to be able to share what happened to me is so incredible.”

Cover Image Credit: ABC12

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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American Or Christian?

Can you really be both?

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This is a thought that has lingered in my mind for a very long time.

Personally, I hate news and politics. It's depressing and it seems like both parties (and people in general) just don't get it. Political conversation gets on my ever-loving nerves and literally gets me down in the dumps for the day.

I just simply don't watch it anymore. There is too much negativity.

That doesn't mean that I am uniformed. I am not advocating for ignorance or anything like that. I prefer to read and figure out my information from sites "in the middle."

As I was eating dinner with my wife the other day we started talking about the new Abortion laws in Alabama and Georgia. As a Christ-follower and a staunch defender of Biblical inerrant, I detest abortion.

Before you read any farther, you must understand something: This article is not about my defense of my beliefs regarding hot topics like abortion or homosexuality. I do not have the time to write about said topics now. I am just asking you to accept what I believe for the sake of the article.

But, anyway, these abortion bills. I can make a pretty good case that they are Constitutional because they are protecting the Life (one of the Rights given to American Citizens) from others. Yes, I know the arguments against said point but continue with me please.

This led our conversation to talk about Homosexual marriage, something that I am against as well. And not just because of Leviticus but because of the New Testament as well.

But, shaking my head, I said something that my wife seemed to agree with:

"As a Christian, I know it's wrong and I cannot agree with it. As an American, I see no reason why it should be illegal. Unless your choices infringe someone's Rights, you should be free to do what you wish (technically speaking)."

This is my dilemma. Well, actually it's not a dilemma. I know that I am a Christian before I am an American. I love this country greatly, and I know how blessed I am to be born here. For all the hate this country gets (and some of it is deserved) and all the problems we have (and we have a lot), we are shoulders above other countries in many ways. I am so thankful for all the men and women who have served to protect me and keep me safe. I'm thankful for a lot of things. And I am proud to be an American.

But my identity in Christ comes first. This is why I do not get into politics much. I don't really care at the end of the day. Because while America has been blessed, we still have work to do here. And this is not my forever home. This is not where I will spend eternity.

I try and respect everyone's opinions, and I earnestly try to love everyone, even when they trash and disrespect my beliefs and convictions. But I must put my call to Christ about anything that has to do with this nation. I will pray for ALL our leaders because I was told to do so (I prayed for President Obama when he was in office). And I will be here to support this nation. But I cannot put it above Christ's commands.

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