President Obama addresses event at the University of Arizona.
The past several days have been an emotional rollercoaster for many throughout Tucson, Arizona, and the United States as a whole.
Last Saturday, what many assumed to be another peaceful assembly to get to know their elected representative at a local Safeway store in northwest Tucson took a fatal turn when one young man's actions took six lives, physically wounded 13, and emotionally scarred the nation.
I am a native of Thousand Oaks, California, but as a second-year student at the University of Arizona, Arizona has become my state and Tucson has become my home. As a student and resident of Tucson, I have seen the community come together in unity to get through the tragic events of last Saturday.
This week was the first time that many of us were on campus following intersession. We were shocked by the news. Things happen all over the world every single day but it was hard to wrap our heads around the fact that the events took place in our town, sparked by a young adult, one of our age group.
At the same time, we were overjoyed to have a genuine hero among us. As the world now knows, UA student Daniel Hernandez, one of Rep. Giffords' interns, administered first aid to the congresswoman as soon as she was wounded and may have saved her life. His sister is a sorority sister of mine. Daniel truly exemplifies someone who remained strong and stable in a time of complete and utter chaos. He will go down in history as a true hero. Tucson and the University of Arizona are proud to call him a member of our communities.
Our campus felt a need to ease our pain. On Wednesday, January 12, Hillel and the University Religious Council sponsored a Memorial and Healing Prayer Service on the campus mall that was attended by 450 students, faculty and administrators. Later that day, President Obama joined with Tucson at the University of Arizona's McKale Center to mourn the lives of those lost, pray for those in need of healing, and to be comforted by the words of truly amazing leaders.
Admission to the event was rather chaotic as tens of thousands of students and community members braved long lines to attend. After waiting five hours, I was fortunate to be among the 26,000 people who got in.
The program, "Together We Thrive: Tucson and America," truly exemplified the strength of the Tucson community and the strength of our nation. Students, neighbors, government officials -- people of all backgrounds -- stood up for those forever silenced in the face of violence and affirmed the healing power of love. As President Obama explained so well: "We are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us."
The tragic events of last Saturday have shaken us, but have not broken us. As I sit on a flight on my way to the nation's capital for the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, I could not be more proud to be a member of both the Tucson community and our great nation. Last Saturday's events have truly showed me that in a time of great tragedy and loss, together we can thrive.