Like many people who grew up in the States, I grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Although I do not have clear memories of specific episodes, I remember the calmness and serenity of his voice and his neighborhood. This past August, I learned that the WQED station near my residence was where my childhood show was made.
Fast-forward to Oct. 27: the Tree of Life shooting that killed 11 in Mister Rogers’ own neighborhood.
Mister Rogers’ quote about looking for helpers circulated.
“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”
At first, I found comfort in those words. However, the comfort quickly dissipated. I felt helpless. Despite doing all I felt like I could at the moment — reaching out and checking on loved ones, sharing news articles, planning my ballot for the upcoming midterm election, attending the vigil on CMU’s campus on Monday, photographing the fence being painted in solidarity — it felt as though what I was doing wasn’t enough.
Of course, nothing can turn back the hands of time and undo the damage done. However, I felt a strange sense of empowerment by connecting with others at Carnegie Mellon. My family in The Tartan and I all opened up and had honest conversations about the event and how we want to move forward. I did research and listened to the concerns of my friends — especially my Jewish friends and friends in Squirrel Hill — and tried to become a better ally. Carnegie Mellon is beyond just a university; it is a diverse community and a home that welcomes the most brilliant minds from various walks of life.
This came to show me that by being a student at this university, I am learning to become a helper. As a top university, Carnegie Mellon prepares its students to become the innovators and leaders of tomorrow. Carnegie Mellon gives me the resources to become anything my imagination lets me be; it is up to me to decide how to use my gifts, skills, and tools developed in my four years here to contribute to the world and be the best version of myself I can be.
Every week in my weekly planner, I like to doodle an inspirational or uplifting quote or reminder. Sometimes, it’s a simple reminder for me to keep an open mind. Other times, it’s a note for myself to remind me to keep going. For this week, it’s a reminder for me to “be a helper.”