Tonight, a celebration of five beautiful lives took place at Georgia Southern University. To my left and to my right, Georgia Southern Eagles of various ages, races, majors, Greek life, and teams united together in remembrance of Caitlyn Baggett, Morgan Bass, Abbie Deloach, Emily Clark, and Catherine (McKay) Pittman. In all of my three years here at GSU, in the midst of all of the heartbreak, I’ve never felt more at home than I did tonight. Hundreds of people gathered to lift up these incredible ladies as fellow nurses, sisters, classmates, best friends, students, coworkers, mentors, and even as strangers. The saying a large scale school with a small town feel has never held more truth. We shared, we cried, we hugged, we prayed, and we patted each other on the shoulders with somber nods. For less than 24 hours prior, our small country town had been rattled with sudden bewilderment, yet, tonight we unified to prove that we will not be shaken.

Though our hearts are sad, they will not be hardened. Though our minds are confused, they will not be angered. Though our spirit is depressed, it will not be crushed. We are Georgia Southern Eagles. While I cannot fully comprehend the rhyme and reason behind God’s plans, I imagine he specifically picked this community because we are strong… because we are unified…because we are brave. He will renew us, strengthen us, and build us.

Now and again, people tend to associate the Georgia Southern name with a negative connotation. Whether we are being ragged on as UGA’s annoying little sister or labeled as the STD capital of the South, we don’t seem to be a crowd favorite. We aren’t the biggest. We aren’t the most upscale. And we might not be the smartest. Yet, no matter how intense a critic’s hatred is for Georgia Southern, they cannot deny the extreme intimacy of our community. Yes, we’re loud… And yes, we’re tremendously obnoxious… but it’s due to our deep love for our school. And through that powerful love of our incredible institution, our love for one another overflows. As a part of Eagle Nation, our immense pride is attributed to the people it encompasses.

We battle day in and day out because we yearn for our GSU emblem to represent something greater than ourselves. As nursing students, Abbie, Emily, McKay, Morgan, and Caitlyn embarked on a demanding, challenging, and time-consuming journey in order to serve others. They sacrificed long nights and early mornings to aid other’s needs before their own. Their selflessness, boldness, and devotion are characteristics that should be instilled into the hearts of all Georgia Southern students. Whether we seek after a championship ring, a scholarship, a degree, a badge, or a status, we should recognize that the reward isn’t anticipated for self-glory. The reward resides in the enrichment of others and the glorification of God, which is exactly what Abbie, McKay, Morgan, Emily, and Caitlyn embodied. That’s what Eagle Nation is about- building each other up, taking close care of one another, making each other proud, and supporting one another through every trial and tribulation.

We scream whose house at the top of our lungs because nothing will make our house collapse. Our foundation is too strong. We say GATA, not because we’re repugnant rednecks, but because we believe in pursing something whole heartedly. We bleed blue and gold because when one Eagle is wounded, we’re all wounded. When one weeps, we all weep. When one is healed, we’re all healed. When one overcomes, we all overcome.

The devil is waiting for us to crumble… for our hearts to harden… for us to grow weary. But he doesn’t realize whose house he just shook. In Isaiah 40:31, it says, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” While there is difficulty in rejoicing in our dear friends’ arrival through the Golden Gates, we must trust in God’s timing. Life is short and God demands for us to truly live every day.

Our beautiful fellow Eagles soar above us in sync, watching over their nest that they so proudly contributed to. They believe in our strength. They desire for us to live out their legacy. They believe that we can overcome any adversity. We are courageous. We are strong. We are Georgia Southern strong.


9 thoughts on “#GSUstrong

  1. This is absolutely beautiful. As a parent of an 20 year old GSU sudent, I am sickened by this tragedy. We must remember even though we hurt that Our God is an awesome God and is in control. We must all to include my self look up to Him for comfort and keep the Faith that he will be with us and take care of us. We now have 5 beautiful angels soaring over us all. We are so blessed to be able to come together and ask for comfort and peace that only He can provide. God Bless GSU and God bless everyone that is hurting!!

  2. What a wonderful tribute to 5 young women and Georgia Southern. I am a parent of two GSU Alumni. Both my kids were very involved (ROTC and softball). From the moment they stepped on campus I felt a connection to a new sense of family. Rarely does that happen. You have captured the essence of what GSU is all about. Well done!

  3. What perfectly executed praise of OUR HOUSE…… our community… GSU, Statesboro, Bulloch Co. in general.
    I’ve always known this is God’s Country. Eagles soar here. Our House stands strong on a solid foundation that is formed from standards expecting one to “do right.”. WE ARE GEORGIA SOUTHERN…and you ain’t seen nothing yet.

  4. As an alumna, I just want to say how much I loved your post! I have always been very proud of my Eagles. But I have never been more proud than I have been over the past couple of days watching my old classmates, co-workers and sisters come together like they have during this tragedy! I now work in Atlanta, and it has been very hard being so far away.

    As a part of the Georgia Southern community, I can attest that the feeling of family doesn’t go away when Freedom flies around the stadium during graduation. Your Georgia Southern family only becomes stronger while you meet more and more alumni. We truly are Georgia Southern strong!

    “When we soar, we soar together! And when we fall, we come together!”

  5. This is heartrending. The loss of such young and vibrant people is a loss for everyone. However, GSU is bearing the brunt of this loss.

  6. I am only a part of the GSU Community as a parent but, no newspaper article or other post does a better job describing what it feels like to be part of Eagle Nation better than this. Soooo glad my daughter chose to be a part of this community as well as a friend and teammate of the author. Outstanding post Katey!

  7. My heart goes out to all of these families. I am so so sorry for y’all loss. I just couldn’t every image getting a phone call like this. I know God has his reasons for taking these young ladies home at such a young age. We are not suppose to understand why. Be very proud of your daughters and what they have accomplish in there life’s. Remember the good times y’all had together. And just know you all have an Angel watching over y’all. I will keep y’all in my prayers always. God bless each of y’all

  8. Wow!!! What an amazing tribute not only to these wonderful young ladies but to their Creator and Our God!!!! Cudos GSU…all staff & students for proclaiming such a honorable message!!!

  9. Still so so sad. Will grieve forever for these beautiful young women. For these baby girls …..cannot imagine the pain these parents are feeling. Praying for them and their families everyday . I don’t know how they can even breathe. Heartbroken for all of you. Please my GOD……help.Please help them and us to try to understand.

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