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Activist David Hogg joined the UD National Agenda audience
via Zoom to discuss the power of a generation’s
The fourth installment of the University of Delaware National Agenda 2021 fall speaker series featured a familiar face and the opportunity for reflection following tragedy.
The virtual edition of National Agenda held on Wednesday, Oct, 20 —
titled “A Generation’s Voice'' — showcased American gun control activist
David Hogg discussing the importance of just that — and how America’s
youth have influenced the political atmosphere of the country.
This year’s speaker series, sponsored by the UD Center for Political Communication
(CPC), is centered around the theme “Reflecting America,” which
celebrates the diversity of our nation with perspectives from political
insiders, journalists, authors, artists and media figures.
“We’re very fortunate to have somebody so young, so poised and
someone who knew how to take a tragedy and turn it into action,” said
Nancy Karibjanian, UD journalism instructor and director of the CPC. “I
think David Hogg epitomizes [the American spirit] in many of the things
he says in such a calm, mature and passionate way.”
Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Shooting in Parkland, Florida, has used his voice to become a prominent
activist while touring the country to deepen his understanding around
the politics of ending gun violence. As the co-founder of March for Our
Lives, an organization committed to gun law reform, Hogg — now a history
student at Harvard University — emphasized to the audience his
commitment to living life as an agent for change.
Speaking to the UD audience via Zoom on the same day that the
Parkland school shooting gunman pled guilty to 17 counts of attempted
murder. One audience member asked Hogg his thoughts on moving forward
and healing after the shooter’s courtroom apology.
“I don’t know if closure is possible,” Hogg said. “I think it’s a
journey that I’m still going on and I think that everyone from Parkland
[is going on].”
The closest form of closure Hogg could imagine, he said, was acts of
gun violence in our schools being “left in our history books, and not in
our future headlines.”
Hogg’s perspective on finding closure resonated with students in the audience, including UD junior Bonnie Trelease.
Trelease, a psychology major, has also reflected on how to move forward after being impacted by a mass school shooting.
Growing up in Oxford, Connecticut — a small town 14 miles from
Newtown, Connecticut — Trelease recalled sitting in sixth grade math
class learning fractions when news of the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary
School shooting sent her own school into lockdown. According to
Trelease, her school administrators said they believed that there may
have been a second shooter — and that her school could have been the
next target that day. Her class was instructed to hide in cabinets in
order to protect themselves from possible gunfire.
“You are permanently damaged from something like that,” said
Trelease. “And I wasn’t even in the situation, I was just near it. I can
relate to him on a personal level regarding his feelings of not being
able to find closure.”
However, Hogg’s appearance on National Agenda was also about empowering his generation to affect the change they want to see.
“I’ve been thinking a lot in the past couple of days about when we
first started this,” said Hogg of his efforts around starting March For
Our Lives with fellow high school classmates. “We went and told the
adults to do their jobs. We said, ‘Get over politics and get something
done.’ We said, ‘We need you to protect us, and if you don’t we’re going
to go out and vote’ — and that’s what we did. We did vote at one of the
highest rates in American history in 2018, and at the highest rate ever
for young people in 2020.”
For Trelease, Hogg’s motivational words provided inspiration.
“I remember being terrified to go to school,” said Trelease, who
recalled having panic attacks while getting ready for school in the
morning after the shooting. With time, however, Trelease says she became
more comfortable with attending classes. She even was inspired to study
in the UD Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences after struggling with anxiety in the wake of the school shooting that rattled both her home state and the nation.
Trelease said that after she graduates she hopes to help others who
live with mental health struggles like her own. For her, that’s the next
step toward closure.
The UD National Agenda is a national affairs speakers series open to
the public, as well as an undergraduate course in which students meet
practitioners in politics and the media from around the United States.
National Agenda is supported by the UD Center for Political
Communication and the UD departments of Communication and Political
Science and International Relations.
Article by Gina Cosenza; photo courtesy of David Hogg
Published Nov. 19, 2021
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