Kennadi Spraggs: Everything, and Then Some

Kennadi Spraggs is a 2018 graduate of Marshall County High School. She's attending the University of Kentucky this fall semester. She loves her dogs, playing golf, taking care of her animals, and exploring Land Between the Lakes. She enjoys getting outdoors, listening to music, and being with her friends.

And on January 23, 2018, she became a survivor.

I first met Kennadi by chance when we both went on vacation on the same cruise line. I remember talking to her, over two years ago now, and asking where she was from. "Oh," she said, "It's a really small town in Kentucky called Benton, you've probably never heard of it."

After the initial freak-out, we compared our friend groups to see who we mutually knew, figured out where we both liked to hang with friends and thought about how crazy it was that as close as we lived to one another, we would only meet for the first time somewhere off the coast of Puerto Rico. And on January 23, she was the first person I thought about when I heard that MCHS had undergone a shooting that morning.

I decided that if anyone has a story that Her Campus Murray State should tell, it's Kennadi. So I sat down with her and asked her about her experience with the tragedy, the impact on her school and our community in the days, weeks, and months afterward, and what she sees for herself and our nation in the future.

 

Her Campus: You’ve written about your experience with the actual shooting and some of the aftermath, and posted about it on social media. Do you have anything to add to that, now that some more time has gone by?

Kennadi Spraggs: Part of me thinks that posting about what happened on social media was a good step [toward] being able to get past it. Social media is a big part of our lives, it’s how we share our experiences, both good and bad. I think that sharing it on social media was a way for all of us to make it real, like okay, here’s what happened, I was a part of this.

HC: How do you feel the shooting affected your community initially? How do you feel it impacts it now?

KS: Initially I feel like it brought everyone together. Something like that happening in a small town, everyone cares, and it shook everyone up. Everyone in Marshall County, I would feel safe to say, was very close with at least one person who was there that day. It was easy for it to hit home for everyone. And at first, there was a lot of fear. Fear in us as students going back, fear in parents sending us back, fear in little siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles and neighbors. But now I feel like we are stronger. Everyone appreciates everyone else in a way that they didn't before. You appreciate stuff that you never even took a second thought at, you realize what can be taken away, and you realize who all is there for you when it gets bad.

HC: What were some ways people around you reacted that surprised you?

KS: Following the shooting and returning to school, I had no idea how I would react and I had no idea how others would react. It was weird to see people who would normally show no emotion, crying. It was weird to see a lot of people doing lots of things, but I can't say that many reactions “surprised” me. No one had any idea how to react or what to expect, everyone’s reactions were what they needed to do personally at the time and I think that was good.

HC: What was the most powerful thing you experienced following the tragedy?

KS: The most powerful thing that I experienced was for sure just being able to see God working. It was insane to think just a few days after what happened that most of us were back in the exact same spot. All the love [that was] shown, everyone helping out in any way they could, all of us as students being able to begin healing, none of that would have been possible without God. It was such a dark place for all of us and God brought us out of that, I think that was pretty powerful.

 

                                                   A picture from the candlelight vigil following the shooting. (Image credit: Kennadi Spraggs)

 

HC: What do you think people, all over the country, need to keep in mind for the future?

KS: It’s weird to think about the future because you don't know what’s going to happen until it literally happens. I’m in a new city, in a new room, writing my replies [to the interview questions] before my first day of college, where I have no idea what is about to happen. The future is scary and nothing is [going to] stop terrible things from happening. I don't know if that's something that people all over the country need to be reminded of or not but bad things are real and they're gonna happen.

HC: What is something you think we should all do to help communities affected by tragedies like this?

KS: Just be there for them, love them, and help in any way you can. There’s nothing that can really be done, in my opinion, to help something like this. A change has to go on within the community, and that has to be a decision that they make themselves. They can choose to dwell on it or they can choose to grow from it. It’s a tough spot to be in for sure but I think that most of the help that communities need is within themselves. They need to come together. The love shown from other communities for sure helps with this though, just knowing that other people care about you too.

 

(Answers have been edited for length or clarity.)