Members of Shippensburg University gathered together in front of the Old Main fountain to remember loved ones lost to gun violence at the Living Through You event on Nov. 6.
The event began with a speech by Aliyah Mensah who organized the event with her friend Deanna Hatcher. Mensah spoke about her cousin, Nasim Alameen, who motivated her to create the event.
Alameen was killed this year because of gun violence. Nov. 6 would have been his 22nd birthday. Mensah was also motivated to create the event to allow people who may be grieving for the same reasons to come together and support one another.
One of her goals was to create a support system for students, and for them to know that they do not have to grieve alone.
“This event isn’t to try to take away anyone’s guns,” Mensah said. “This is not a rally.”
She encouraged people to take a step back when they get into an altercation and remember that there are more ways to settle an argument than turning to a gun, and to think of that person’s family.
Candles were passed around to those in attendance in honor of loved ones. Mensah asked that anyone who knew Alameen or someone affected by gun violence to speak about it.
Students shared stories about people in their lives who they lost because of gun violence.
Hatcher asked those in attendance to look at the people around them as she began speaking. She urged everyone to treat each other with honor, respect and superiority.
Earlier this year, Hatcher hosted a gun violence awareness event in Philadelphia to educate young people about the harmfulness of gun violence.
She believes her place in this world is to make an impact on others.
“I want to make a huge difference in my community, but I can’t do this alone. That’s why I called you here,” she said.
Hatcher asked the audience to make better decisions in their lives and to be aware of how they treat one another.
“I encourage you guys to stay woke,” she said.
Janet McKeithan-Janifer of the career, mentoring and professional development center encouraged students to reach out to the various resources on campus if they need help grieving.
“I know sometimes in our culture we resist getting that level of professional intervention, but there is no shame in that,” she said.
She commended Mensah and Thatcher for creating the event for students.
The event closed with a balloon release, and the word “peace” was said as students let go of them.