East Tennessee Student Returns To Virginia Tech

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Knoxville (WVLT) -- Virginia Tech students may face their toughest task tomorrow when classes resume for the first time since the massacre last Monday.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy sat down with a grad student from Knoxville who says it's going to be hard, but nothing could keep her from setting foot back on the campus she loves.

Virginia Tech grad student Erin Mabry's trying to move on.

"I just needed to get out of there," Erin said.

She needed to get away from campus and the painful memory of more than 30 fellow Hokies who were gunned down in last week's massacre. But it was the broadcast images of the student gunman that made it all just too much.

"There was just something in those photos," she said, "seeing the hatred that man had, and that it was so close to home. It just got to me."

So, Mabry came home to Knoxville Thursday and then visited her sister in Atlanta. It was time for some much-needed love from her family and her dog.

"I haven't opened a newspaper the past few days, and I haven't turned on the TV," she said, "I just wanted to forget for a few days."

But with classes beginning again tomorrow, she must now remember it all.

"We all have to learn from this, but I wouldn't choose not to go back for anything," she said.

As she packed her bags on Sunday afternoon, she also took back a more open heart.

Once Mabry leaves her home here in Knoxville, she says it doesn't matter if she's talking to her mom over the phone, through the mail, or on E-mail. She has decided she'll never end another conversation without saying "I love you."

"Tomorrow could be our last day, so don't leave anything unfinished," she said. "Don't leave any words unspoken.

Now the car's packed and and she's ready to go back.

"We all know we need to move on," she said, "and just take this as it is and keep going."

A determination that tragedy couldn't take away.

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