Once An Eagle, Always An Eagle

Once An Eagle, Always An Eagle

This wasn't close to home; it was home.
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February 14, 2018. A day that was supposed to be filled with such love and happiness now means something completely different.

At 2:30, I was on the phone with my best friend from high school. We were catching up when suddenly she gets a text from her mom: "Turn on the TV now." She puts me on speaker and turns up the volume. We both listen in horror and complete disbelief, instantly bursting into tears. Our high school, our home, was now the site of our country's latest mass shooting.

It's still hard to believe and fully wrap my head around how something so horrific, so violent, could happen in our little town of Parkland, the so-called "safest city in the country." When my parents decided to move here 18 years ago, they did so because of how amazing the community is, and how close-knit and safe it is. It's hard to understand unless you're from here, but Parkland is a very small community. Everyone knows everybody; you grew up with each other and go through life side-by-side. This makes the entire tragedy even harder to process. This didn't hit close to home. It was home. Our entire community is grieving and trying to grasp what has happened. You see, no ever thought this could happen here, but it did.

From watching the news, hearing the students' and teachers' firsthand accounts of their terrifying experiences, and seeing the videos and pictures of students running out of the school with their hands up, my heart broke into a million pieces. I sat in those classrooms. Learned from those teachers. Walked through those halls. Made memories that will last a lifetime on that campus. And now those rooms, that building, they are the home to horrors that no person, let alone children, should ever have to witness.

Douglas was my home, and always will be. It was in those halls I found myself, my passions, my friends. Where I made memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. Where my teachers helped mold me into the person I am today. I will forever be grateful of the teachers I had throughout my time at Douglas. For the ones who showed me what it means to be kind. The ones who exemplified compassion. The ones who helped me find my love of writing. The ones who encouraged me to love myself.

Not a day goes by when I am not immensely grateful for my teachers and everyone at Douglas. There are not enough words to express my gratitude. Douglas creates leaders and shows its students how important it is to stand up for what we believe in and how to take advantage of every opportunity we have. The poise and elegance of those survivors has been absolutely amazing. Their wisdom is astonishing. Their strength is admirable. They are the future that Douglas prepares its students for. They are Eagles.

On that dreadful day, innocence was taken from those students, from our town. I am overcome with sadness that this place I cherish is now associated with such violence and evil. Those 17 families will never have their loved ones come home. Those 17 lives were so violently taken from us. Now, when people think of Douglas or Parkland, they'll think of the shooting. But this school and this town will not let evil win. Those 17 innocent people will not die in vain. We will fight for justice and change. We will make sure that never again will another community experience this pain, this devastation.

Every Eagle, past and present, will tell you about the quote we passed under as we left those red gates day after day, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Unfortunately, those 17 innocent lives will no longer be able to make that change this generation has begun to make. Those 17 innocent lives are no longer able to make that change that they deserved. But we will. We will live for them. We will make a difference for them. We will make sure our voices are heard for them. We will never forget or stop fighting until this never happens again.

That is why I am proud to be a Parklander. That is why I am and will forever be proud to be an Eagle.

Cover Image Credit: NY Daily News

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Dear Senator Walsh, I Can't Wait For The Day That A Nurse Saves Your Life

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

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Dear Senator Walsh,

I can't even fathom how many letters you've read like this in the past 72 hours. You've insulted one of the largest, strongest and most emotion-filled professions.. you're bound to get a lot of feedback. And as nurses, we're taught that when something makes us mad, to let that anger fuel us to make a difference and that's what we're doing.

I am not even a nurse. I'm just a nursing student. I have been around and I've seen my fair share of sore legs and clinical days where you don't even use the bathroom, but I am still not even a nurse yet. Three years in, though, and I feel as if I've given my entire life and heart to this profession. My heart absolutely breaks for the men and women who are real nurses as they had to wake up the next morning after hearing your comments, put on their scrubs and prepare for a 12-hour day (during which I promise you, they didn't play one card game).

I have spent the last three years of my life surrounded by nurses. I'm around them more than I'm around my own family, seriously. I have watched nurses pass more medications than you probably know exist. They know the side effects, dosages and complications like the back of their hand. I have watched them weep at the bedside of dying patients and cry as they deliver new lives into this world. I have watched them hang IV's, give bed baths, and spoon-feed patients who can't do it themselves. I've watched them find mistakes of doctors and literally save patient's lives. I have watched them run, and teach, and smile, and hug and care... oh boy, have I seen the compassion that exudes from every nurse that I've encountered. I've watched them during their long shifts. I've seen them forfeit their own breaks and lunches. I've seen them break and wonder what it's all for... but I've also seen them around their patients and remember why they do what they do. You know what I've never once seen them do? Play cards.

The best thing about our profession, Senator, is that we are forgiving. The internet might be blown up with pictures mocking your comments, but at the end of the day, we still would treat you with the same respect that we would give to anyone. That's what makes our profession so amazing. We would drop anything, for anyone, anytime, no matter what.

You did insult us. It does hurt to hear those comments because from the first day of nursing school we are reminded how the world has zero idea what we do every day. We get insulted and disrespected and little recognition for everything we do sometimes. But you know what? We still do it.

When it's your time, Senator, I promise that the nurse taking care of you will remember your comments. They'll remember the way they felt the day you publicly said that nurses "probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day." The jokes will stop and it'll eventually die down, but we will still remember.

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

Please just remember that we cannot properly take care of people if we aren't even taken care of ourselves.

I sincerely pray that someday you learn all that nurses do and please know that during our breaks, we are chugging coffee, eating some sort of lunch, and re-tying our shoes... not playing cards.

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Dear Nancy Pelosi, 16-Year-Olds Should Not Be Able To Vote

Because I'm sure every sixteen year old wants to be rushing to the voting booth on their birthday instead of the BMV, anyways.

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Recent politicians such as Nancy Pelosi have put the voting age on the political agenda in the past few weeks. In doing so, some are advocating for the voting age in the United States to be lowered from eighteen to sixteen- Here's why it is ludicrous.

According to a study done by "Circle" regarding voter turnout in the 2018 midterms, 31% of eligible people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted. Thus, nowhere near half of the eligible voters between 18 and 29 actually voted. To anyone who thinks the voting age should be lowered to sixteen, in relevance to the data, it is pointless. If the combination of people who can vote from the legal voting age of eighteen to eleven years later is solely 31%, it is doubtful that many sixteen-year-olds would exercise their right to vote. To go through such a tedious process of amending the Constitution to change the voting age by two years when the evidence doesn't support that many sixteen-year-olds would make use of the new change (assuming it would pass) to vote is idiotic.

The argument can be made that if someone can operate heavy machinery (I.e. drive a car) at sixteen, they should be able to vote. Just because a sixteen-year-old can (in most places) now drive a car and work at a job, does not mean that they should be able to vote. At the age of sixteen, many students have not had fundamental classes such as government or economics to fully understand the political world. Sadly, going into these classes there are students that had mere knowledge of simple political knowledge such as the number of branches of government. Well, there are people above the age of eighteen who are uneducated but they can still vote, so what does it matter if sixteen-year-olds don't know everything about politics and still vote? At least they're voting. Although this is true, it's highly doubtful that someone who is past the age of eighteen, is uninformed about politics, and has to work on election day will care that much to make it to the booths. In contrast, sixteen-year-olds may be excited since it's the first time they can vote, and likely don't have too much of a tight schedule on election day, so they still may vote. The United States does not need people to vote if their votes are going to be uneducated.

But there are some sixteen-year-olds who are educated on issues and want to vote, so that's unfair to them. Well, there are other ways to participate in government besides voting. If a sixteen-year-old feels passionate about something on the political agenda but can't vote, there are other ways of getting involved. They can canvas for politicians whom they agree with, or become active in the notorious "Get Out The Vote" campaign to increase registered voter participation or help register those who already aren't. Best yet, they can politically socialize their peers with political information so that when the time comes for all of them to be eighteen and vote, more eighteen-year-olds will be educated and likely to vote.

If you're a sixteen-year-old and feel hopeless, you're not. As the 2016 election cycle approached, I was seventeen and felt useless because I had no vote. Although voting is arguably one of the easiest ways to participate in politics, it's not the only one. Since the majority of the current young adult population don't exercise their right to vote, helping inform them of how to stay informed and why voting is important, in my eyes is as essential as voting.

Sorry, Speaker Pelosi and all the others who think the voting age should be lowered. I'd rather not have to pay a plethora of taxes in my later years because in 2020 sixteen-year-olds act like sheep and blindly vote for people like Bernie Sanders who support the free college.

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