Expect the unexpected, but how does one prepare?


Stephanie Sawaked, Opinion Editor for The Carolinian shares her first person account. Sawaked was in class when USC Upstate issued an active shooter warning Tuesday.

By Stephanie Sawaked
The Carolinian

Nothing could possibly prepare you for the moment you hear, “Get back in the classroom, turn the lights off and get low. There is a shooter on campus.”

Our classroom was in shock and mainly, in disbelief. What has happened in various cities like Las Vegas and last Sunday in Sutherland Springs, Texas, has society on edge while simultaneously thinking those events couldn’t possibly take place in their cities. I never would have expected to hear those words in the small town of Spartanburg and on such a quiet campus like ours.

All of us looked around at one another and even Professor Gary Mattingly didn’t appear to believe what we were hearing. He left the classroom to do his own investigating. When he came back, he let us know that shots fired has been confirmed and his immediate response was, “I hope this isn’t a spin-off of what happened in Texas.”

We sat in our class in the Administration Building that has limited Wi-Fi service, unless connected to the University’s internet. My first thought was to let my mom and siblings know what was going on via Facebook.

I told my sister to fill my dad in and that’s when he called me, telling my sister he just wanted to hear my voice. Knowing that, I fought tears. Not only for the fact that I had no idea what was going on beyond these four walls, but also because I wasn’t sure the severity of the situation and if this was the last time I would be able to tell my immediate family that I love them.

Fear of the unknown outweighed fear of an armed man walking into our classroom.

My classmates also immediately got on their phones to inform family members of what was going on but after about half an hour, we decided to talk and as best we could, make light of the situation and make each other laugh rather than make each other more frightened.

I am thankful to local law enforcement and campus police and officials for making sure we were safe and keeping us on lockdown.

There is never a way to mentally or physically prepare for the unexpected. We were at our most vulnerable, expecting a normal Tuesday in class and got so much more than that.