• Give a Gift
  • Customer Service
  • Promotions
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Win
  • Games

June 14, 2013

I Survived


Photo Credit: Peter Hapak

Special Offer


Blacksburg, Virginia
April 16, 2007

Habtu was a senior at Virginia Tech when Cho entered her German class.

I remember the moment I was shot: I looked at my wrist and saw a bullet wound. I had no idea that another bullet went through my jaw until I woke up after surgery later that day.

I stayed in the hospital for a month and was in rehab on my graduation day. I spent a week focusing on walking with my physical therapist so I could be part of the ceremony. When I got up on stage, everyone stood for me. That gave me strength.

The impact from the bullet realigned my face—it moved everything around. In fact, it's still there, 1 millimeter from my brain stem, which is why they can't take it out.

Two facial reconstruction surgeries later, I still have braces to straighten my teeth. But the physical healing was easier than the emotional healing. That summer, I had to start dealing with so many ramifications of the shooting, including mourning classmates who had died.

I finally sought out a mental health expert to help me with survivor's guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder. So many people died around me that day—smart, kind, talented people who would have changed the world. I would think, Why am I still here? Now it is not so painful when people say, "We're so happy you're alive."

I just finished my master's degree in conflict resolution at George Mason University. I want to focus on helping people figure out how to live peacefully. Despite everything that's happened, I've learned to focus on living a happy life. This is our one life, and it is too precious to waste. @eliltatweets

Connect with Marie Claire:
daily giveaway
Unlimited Brunch!

Unlimited Brunch!

enter now
You Know You Want More
More From News & Features
You’ve Probably Seen This Guy’s Forged Art in a Museum

The true story of the master art forger, Mark Landis, captured on film.

ISIS's Latest Victim: An Iraqi Women's Rights Activist

Sameera Salih Ali al-Nuaimy, a human rights lawyer, was executed in public after days of torture.

Miss America Kira Kazantsev Should Apologize for Hazing Sorority Pledges

In brushing aside the reports of hazing, Miss America may only be perpetuating the cycle of violence and humiliation in the Greek system.

post a comment

Special Offer
Link Your Marie Claire Account to Facebook

Marie Claire already has an account with this email address. Link your account to use Facebook to sign in to Marie Claire. To insure we protect your account, please fill in your password below.

Forgot Password?

Thanks for Joining

Your information has been saved and an account has been created for you giving you full access to everything marieclaire.com and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your username and/or password or complete your profile, click here.

Your accounts are now linked

You now have full access to everything Marie Claire and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your settings or profile, click here.