Starsha Vang ’14 is counting her blessings this week as she reflects on the one-year anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting at Route 91.
The elementary education graduate of St. Cloud State University currently teaches 6th grade science and 7th grade reading at Mater Academy of Nevada. She posted yesterday on Facebook:
“Today I woke up feeling kind of bad for myself. Not wanting to get out of bed. Not wanting to go to work. But then I saw my
students. It reminded me to be grateful. Grateful to be here with them. Grateful I have a job that I love. Grateful to be alive. October 1 will be a day that always reminds me how fast something/someone can be taken away and to be thankful for all of the wonderful people I have in my life. Today, and every day, make sure you hug your loved ones and let them know how much you appreciate and love them. I know I will be.
#vegasstrong #neverforget #october1 #route91#thankful
Van, along with three other friends, were excited to attend Jason Aldean’s outdoor concert in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017. What started out as a beautiful autumn evening, turned tragic in seconds.
“The day was going as planned with the multiple concerts scheduled. When Jason Aldean was about to start, my roommate headed up to the stage towards her seat while I stayed towards the back with another group of friends. Everything seemed to be going as planned, just another typical outdoor concert. Aldean started playing his fourth song we heard a few, what sounded like fire crackers, pop off. We looked around and thought it was odd, but because Aldean kept playing we really didn’t think anything about it. Once the shots become more rapid, the people near the front of the stage started running back towards us, so we started running as well.”
“We didn’t realize there was an active shooter until later that night after reports hit the television outlets. Initially we hid behind a metal pole, then eventually made it to our vehicle to drive away from the scene. We all called our families to let them know we were safe. At this point we still really had no idea what had happened. It wasn’t until early the next morning when we saw the details of the massacre.”
It’s been a roller coaster of a year as Vang, along with the rest of Las Vegas, has tried to recover from this tragic event.
“I don’t think you really ever ‘recover’ from something like this. I still find myself getting emotional at times. Shortly after the shooting I was very scared to go outside and do anything. Some of the best advice I received came from my cousin, Jessica Ingram Johannes ‘08, a practicing psychologist.”
Johannes told Vang, “Take it slow, but you need to get yourself out there. Staying inside and hiding from the world is only going to make things worse. I know it’s hard, but the more you get outside, the less anxiety you will have.”
“From that day moving forward, I knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone and continue on with my life,” said Vang. “Now I am living a pretty normal life, but I am much more ‘aware’ of my surroundings.”
“The way that I have seen the city of Las Vegas come together in the past year brings tears to my eyes. I remember the day after the shooting, my friends and I went to donate blood and the wait time in line was hours long. I broke down right then and there. I could not believe the support of a town where many people don’t know exists off of the ‘Strip.’ A town that many people just think of as a big party, came together to support each other. That made my heart so happy.”
“The inception of the NHL Vegas Golden Knights was a huge part in bringing our Las Vegas community together as well. They came at the perfect time last October and made our entire city proud. I am proud to be a part of this Las Vegas community.”
“If I could speak to the victims’ families and all affected by this tragedy, I would just like to say that I am so sorry for their loss
and they will forever live on in our thoughts and prayers. The lives of their loved ones will not go unnoticed or be forgotten. The impact that I have seen in our city and school amazes me every day.”
Vang had a Las Vegas skyline in the shape of a heartbeat tattooed on her arm to remind her to keep living each day to her fullest
potential in the beautiful city of Las Vegas. Vang shared that a local tattoo shop, Bad Apple, donated all of their proceeds from tattoos following the shooting to the victim’s relief fund.
“My life has been changed forever. I realize, more than ever, that I shouldn’t take life for granted. There was some reason that my life was not taken on that day, one year ago. I realize that I need to be the best that I can be for myself, my family, and my students.”