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Dear Diary… One year later

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal Lutheran chapter.

A year has passed since November 7th, 2018. For many who live in or close to Thousand Oaks, this date will be forever etched in their minds. It was a day that others around the world watched, as our community came to terms with what was happening. Now, a year has passed and our community has started to heal, but for many, more time is still needed. At Her Campus at Cal Lutheran, we wanted to reflect on the past year, to have a space to write in continuation of last year’s collaborative Dear Diary. We share our writing with others who may also be having similar thoughts. 

Together we share similar feelings despite being different grades and majors.

Together we will support each other through this difficult anniversary.

Together we are strong. 

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“Dear Diary,

     I wasn’t a student at Cal Lu yet when the incident happened last year. But I still remember it. I remember how it affected our community even out in Oxnard because people here had loved ones–family members and/or friends–who went were involved with the school. I remember spending most of the school day oblivious to what happened but feeling that something was wrong. I heard whispers but no one told me. I saw tears and serious faces but no one looked at me. I KNEW something was wrong. My favorite teacher, Mr. Corona, was definitely one of the people affected by it. I tried to cheer him up during class and lunch but he wouldn’t smile, at least not seriously. I tried to make conversation when I went after school to get some help on the lesson but he still wouldn’t smile. His heart just wasn’t in it. I knew it wasn’t that I had done something wrong but that something had gone wrong and it wasn’t until my friend came to “pick me up” and walk with me out of that class that someone finally explained the incident.

I realized that Mr. Corona was heartbroken because of it. I remember thinking, who did he know? Were they his friends or his family? Did he lose them? Oh God, I hope not… I didn’t know at the time that I’d be attending Cal Lu in a year but all the same, I felt devastated. I had heard that Thousand Oaks was supposed to be one of the safest cities in the county/state. How can something like this happen in a city like that? Is no one safe? What’s the point of safety if it’s not guaranteed? Why are we allowing these things to happen without taking measures to prevent something similar in the future? Why is nothing changing? How many more incidents have to occur for people to get the hint??? It’s been too long now…we need to make a stand to fight for what’s right, what’s more important than “the right to bear arms.” We need to make a stand for our safety so we can live in a world where the first thing we fear isn’t the sound of gunshots.”

Angelina Leanos – Freshman – English


“Dear Diary,

     It’s been a year. A year since our community was rocked to its core. Somehow it feels as though it’s been a week and a decade at the same time. It’s difficult to conceptualize an entire year going by. I’ve lived here my whole life. My entire childhood, adolescence and now college years have been here. Thousand Oaks has always been safe, if not boring. Sure, nobody from any other state (or even any other county) knew about us, but we were safe and happy and able to enjoy ourselves. All of that was stolen from us in one night. In the span of a few hours, the people and the town I had always known became part of a much larger phenomena: mass gun violence.

Our beloved small town became a mere statistic. This abrupt shift still troubles me. Thousand Oaks shouldn’t be known for this night. Survivors shouldn’t be defined by this night. How one night, a mere few hours, can permanently alter everything as we know it is still beyond my comprehension. But I do understand that we, as individuals and as a community, can rise above it. I’d like to think that people are generally good. I’d like to think that for every sick, twisted individual, there are thousands of good people more than willing to help and love those in need. I suppose you need to have some degree of faith in humanity in order to just get by. A life lived in fear of others is not fulfilling. You cannot give one individual the power to ruin your view of humanity.

This past year has been full of hurt. But it’s also been full of healing, love, and progress. I do believe that the Thousand Oaks community will always be stronger because of this. When we remember Borderline, we remember that nothing can ever be taken for granted. We remember that for every evil action, there are hundreds of heroic ones. But perhaps most importantly, we remember to love and respect those around us at all times, because life as you know it can change at a moment’s notice.”

Michaela DuBois – Junior – Clinical & Behavioral Psychology


“Dear Diary,

     It’s hard to believe that the tragic Borderline shooting happened a year ago. So much has changed, but also, so little has changed. So many shootings have happened within this year’s gap. We’ve grown so much from this tragedy, but it has brought us all closer together. Cal Lutheran became closer after this tragedy. It’s amazing to see how the Cal Lutheran family, but also Thousand Oaks as a whole has changed because of this.”

Anonymous – Senior – Criminal Justice


“Dear Diary,

     Just under one year ago I wrote about how angry I was about the tragedy that my home-away-from-home of Thousand Oaks faced. Compared to my previous feelings, I am definitely upset and saddened more than anything else. As the year has gone by I have known more people who were there that night, those that almost went, and those that lost someone close to them. However, I am beyond proud of our community and the way in which everyone has come together to provide support for anyone who needs it. It still is a beyond sensitive topic for myself but more importantly, everyone around me. A year later I am upset because there are still so many people living in fear from that one Wednesday night in November of 2018.” 

Francheska Cal – Senior – Interdisciplinary Educational Studies Major


“Dear Diary,

     Last year, I almost lost a friend who I grew up with. We lived across the street from each other on Appleglen. We spent our summers making lemonade, having sleepovers, going to the pool, riding our bikes in the cul de sac, and climbing trees. During the school year, we would play at the end of the block until the sun went down and our parents called for us to come in and finish our homework. Times were simpler then. There was no fear. We were children who could just be children. Our biggest worry was getting carried away while playing and being late for dinner. Our days were free from danger. Years later, my friend was shot at. Now her days consist of looking over her shoulder, wondering if she is safe. We all feel like that. The community we grew up in is now on high alert. There is an unshakable feeling when going out. Am I safe? Are my friends safe? I am a young adult now and I think about the kids today who are the same age as I was when I lived on Appleglen. Their world is so different from when I was eight. They have a fear that my friend and I never had. I pray that one day we can get back to that world, where life was simple, carefree, and safe.”

Anonymous – Senior – Communications with an emphasis in Advertising and PR


“Dear Diary,

     Last year, my friends and I were going to go to Borderline that night. The ONLY reason we didn’t go was because I didn’t feel like going…”

Anonymous – Junior – Marketing Communications


Dear Diary,

     November 7th, 2018 remains the worst night of my life. I will never forget waking up to the phone calls from friends and loved ones who had no idea that I had decided not to go that night. I still wake up to nightmares of what could have been if I was there that night. Nothing has ever scared me worse. I’ve finally stopped crying when someone mentions Borderline but it took 10 months for me to get there. All of that time, just so I don’t cry when it gets mentioned, or when I think about that I was almost there. I had gone every week leading up to that night. My friend got sick and I was still going to go, and then I just didn’t. I don’t believe in anything religious but I swear I had a guardian angel that night.

I feel guilty though. I feel so guilty for the pain and the fear that I still feel because I wasn’t there, I just almost was. I wasn’t there and yet I have panic attack’s when I read or hear about other shootings. I cannot and will not ever hold a gun. Even looking at one frightens me. I shouldn’t feel that way because I wasn’t there. So it isn’t fair for me to feel that way. Others had it so much worse. But at the same time, it is fair for me to feel this way because it could have been me and it wasn’t. Every single day I thank my lucky stars that it wasn’t me, even if I do check for all the exits when I enter a building and I am always on high alert.

Also, Tel, I didn’t know you that well, but well enough to know that you were an amazing guy and that Borderline was your home. It was where you belonged and it was the one place that made you the happiest. I never got the chance to tell you this and I know I never will, but thank you. Thank you for all of the laughs and all of the times you were kinda hard on my friends and me, it made us smarter when we went out. Thank you for walking us out to my car that night that those two guys wouldn’t leave us alone. Without you, we wouldn’t have been safe. I hate that I never got to thank you a million times for doing that and I hate that I never will get to tell you how amazing you are. You are so missed.

All of these words, they were hard. I’ve never been able to write down how I felt about that night and its still so hard. How do I say that I broke that night and I still haven’t healed? How do I say that I want to scream until all of the pain is gone, but that I know it never will be and it will follow me every day for the rest of my life? How do I explain that I want to break things when I see my home on the list of mass shootings? I have so much anger and pain and sadness that has been resting inside me for so long and it has nowhere to go, no outlet to be let out of. I don’t want this pain to leave me, I want this pain to remind me. To remind me how every day that I am still here is a lucky day, even if it doesn’t feel like one. I want it to remind me to stay safe and to just always be aware of my surroundings. I want it to remind me to listen to my gut when something doesn’t feel right. I don’t want any of these negative feelings anymore, but I’ve made peace with the fact that they are a part of me now and that they are going to continue to help me grow and to help me move past this. And hopefully, someday, I will heal.

We will all heal.

Alexia – Junior – English 


“Dear Diary,

     On November 7, 2018, I spent the day at home doing homework as a high school senior. I woke up the next morning to one of my friends tweeting the simple message ‘Not again.’ At the time, I didn’t understand what that was supposed to mean. Later that day, I turned on the television and found out about the horrific event.

On November 7, 2019, I’m at California Lutheran University as a freshman student. Attending the Borderline One Year Vigil, I listened to the stories of what happened that night one year ago. I’m surrounded by strangers, friends, students, faculty members, those who have lost family, and those who have made another. I watched them embrace each other with tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces. I felt a stranger, someone I’ve never met before, clutch my hand. I felt the love and the hope of a community that has suffered yet healed.

One of the things that made me fall in love with California Lutheran University was how this community connects with each other. Cruelty and pain will always try to disconnect us, but we will always embrace each other. Through tears and smiles, we will always listen to each other. Whether meeting for the first or last time, we will always clutch the hands of each other.

One year later, we are a community connected. And in the years to come, I’m sure we’ll always be connected.”

Francine Aclan – Freshman – International Business


“Dear Diary,

     I wasn’t at Cal Lutheran yet. I was still 30 miles away, finishing my application as a senior in high school in my hometown of Northridge. I was home, sick from school and woke up to the news. My heart sank to the floor when the notification came on my phone screen. I knew people from my high school who went to CLU, people who could have been there, people who could have been hurt. This was the closest to me a shooting had ever occurred, and it scared me. It was affecting a community that I was familiar with, one that was so near to me, and one I was considering being a part of. Little did I know, I would choose to join this school only 5 months later.

Little did I know, that was the best decision of my life. When I arrived on this campus, I was not met with a weakened campus, one that did not know how to move past the tragedy. Rather, I was met with the strongest community of individuals I have ever come by. They had survived the violence, mourned, and come together to keep living their lives as best as they knew how to. They were stronger than ever before. I can still hear the echo of the events that shook this campus a year ago. The lives lost are still remembered and honored. Although I wasn’t here, I’m glad I am now, for I am now part of one of the strongest communities alive.”

Caroline Lopez – Freshman – English 


“Dear Diary,

I do not even know where to start. It has been one full year. One full year since the small town of Thousand Oaks was changed. I have thought a lot about how this year has changed our community, it has brought a stronger bond to many and sadness to all. However, I have also found this year to be eye-opening to my emotions about this tragedy; while I do feel sad and taken back at the amount of time that has passed and what happened just a short year ago, all I can think about is those who were completely, directly affected. My heart is so heavy this year for those who were at Borderline that night, for those who lost a loved one, and for those who are reliving that experience again this year. I cannot imagine what these people must be going through or how they must be feeling. I can only hope that they feel loved and supported by so many, as I know the amount of love that Thousand Oaks is holding for them. I will continue to hold these people in my heart and keep them in my prayers during this time of the year.

While there are many things on my mind and the minds of many others, I believe we should take the time today to remember our twelve fallen angels, not as a group, but by name:

Ron Helus, Cody Coffman, Justin Meek, Alaina Housley, Sean Adler, Daniel Manrique, Noel Sparks, Telemachus Orfanos, Blake Dingman, Kristina Morisette, Jake Dunham, and Mark Meza.”

Julianna Melvin – Junior – Interdisciplinary Educational Studies


“Dear Diary, 

     One year. I can’t believe it’s been one year since the night that left a lasting impact on myself and the entire Thousand Oaks community. I’ve only been to Borderline once, exactly one week before everything happened. I made plans to go back with my friends that night, but we ended up canceling our plans a couple of hours beforehand. The amount of people that I’ve spoken to since then that have a story similar to mine is honestly shocking. I don’t know why so many people were stopped from going that night, and yet so many others still wound up there. 12 people were taken away too early. The families of the victims had to experience the unthinkable. The survivors of that night had to go through something that they should never have to go through. My heart hurts for all of the people who were deeply affected by this tragedy.

Because Thousand Oaks and Cal Lutheran are such tight-knit communities, no person went unaffected by what happened that night. For me, it’s shocking to know that something so awful could happen to my sweet, quiet little college town. Thousand Oaks is typically a place that no one has ever heard of. Nothing much goes on here, and I think that’s what made the healing process so much more difficult for everyone. Our home had changed in the worst way possible. Every time I hear of another mass shooting, I can now understand how the people in that community feel like every ounce of safety, security, and innocence has been taken away from them. If there is anything that I have gotten from all of this, it is the feeling of community. I feel comfort in the fact that in the darkest of times, our Cal Lu and Thousand Oaks community stood strong. Everyone was there for one another. We grieved with each other, we listened, and we supported one another. Our city changed and to some degree, all of our lives changed, but we got through it together as a community.

It’s hard to find the words to say about a tragic event that hit so close to home. If anything, I think I’ve learned that the world needs a little more kindness, love, and compassion. If we can live every day with those three things, then evil doesn’t win. With the 12 angels watching over the community, we will continue to grow through this and prove that together, we are all Thousand Oaks strong. November 7th, 2018 will always be a day of remembrance for the lives that were taken and the innocent people who were affected.”

Carli Speer – Junior – Interdisciplinary Educational Studies


“Dear Diary,

     I can remember the moment like it was yesterday. The moment my best friend called me in a panic asking where I was and if I had heard what was going on. Confusion and shock took over my every thought. To follow was a night filled with every emotion imaginable. But the strongest emotion I felt was heartache, heartache for the people that were there experiencing something no one ever deserves to, something truly horrible. There will always be a personal heartache for me whenever anyone mentions Borderline, but I know it is far greater for other people. Today, on the one year anniversary I hope instead of heartache we feel a little but of healing as community.” 

Sophia Placencio – Sophomore – Criminal Justice


“Dear Diary,

     It’s been a year since November 7th, 2018. It’s been a year since I woke up confused about why I had multiple messages asking if I’m okay. It’s been a year since I sat in the university church surrounded by familiar and unfamiliar faces all stunned by what the news told them. It’s been a year since I allowed myself to revisit these images that are locked at the back of my mind. My heart feels heavy for the beautiful lives that were lost, for the innocence that was taken and for those that had to go through it whether they were there that night, nearly went that night, trying to text someone they knew or are part of our community.

For many it has left a scar, some are larger than others, some more visible than others, but scars heal and fade over time. I’ve watched the Thousand Oaks and Cal Lutheran community come together to support one another and hold each other up in ways that I did not think were possible. I am proud to be part of such an amazing community.

This is a reminder to hug friends a little tighter, tell loved ones what they mean to you and spread a little kindness to everyone you meet in your path.

It’s been a year, but we are Thousand Oaks/ CLU/ Borderline strong.”

Rosie Baker – Junior – Communication 

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