Students at Umpqua Community College shared what they are most thankful for in light of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Chris Hudgeon said he was thankful for being provided many opportunities and being able to pick himself back up. “It’s really easy not to be thankful with the way people are go, go, go all the time,” Hudgeon said. “You kind of lose track and don’t stop to look around. Look at your family, look at your situation and realize that people have it worse, way worse.”

Hudgeon said he is thankful for getting a fresh start at life and being thankful helps him remain positive. He hopes his kids look at him as an example; that they see he is more grateful than bitter, and that they pick up the same traits as him.

John Farrand Haylie Ellison / The Mainstream
John Farrand
Haylie Ellison / The Mainstream

John Farrand, an AAOT major, said he is thankful for being alive and for his friends. He said being thankful “gives an opportunity to be happy. It helps me smile on days when every part of my being says not to.”

Tanya Williams, a business major, said she is thankful to have her family still, despite rough times in her life. “Being thankful is what makes people happy. You have to be thankful for something or else you are a miserable person,” Williams said. “If you are thankful, you are looking for the positive things in life. Instead of finding the negative, you are going to be striving to look for the good in the situation.”

Sharon Kirkham said she was simply thankful for being alive. Kirkham was one of the survivors of the UCC Shooting on Oct. 1, 2015.  As she tearfully described the aftermath of what happened that tragic day, she said she feels it is of utmost importance to be thankful. “I am grateful for being able to return to school at this point in my life,” Kirkham said. “Being thankful gives me a more humbling perspective.”

Karen Mackey Haylie Ellison / The Mainstream
Karen Mackey
Haylie Ellison / The Mainstream

Kirkham was in Snyder 16, the classroom closest to the one that the shooter was in. Kim Dietz, one of Kirkham’s classmates, went to check on the shots heard in the classroom next door where Dietz was then shot. Dietz fell back into the classroom where Kirkham then performed CPR, but it was too late.

Kirkham tearfully recalled that she is thankful for Chris Mintz who sacrificed his safety for her class by telling them to be quiet and keep their heads down. She thinks of him as a hero as she is thankful for being alive and able to hold her grandchildren. Karen Mackey, a nursing student, said she is thankful for her family as well as her church family. She said she believes it’s very important to be thankful and that when you are thankful “you realize and appreciate what you are given. You don’t take things for granted and you realize how lucky you are,” Mackey said. “It keeps you humble to be thankful, so you don’t think you’re entitled, you don’t take things for granted, and you realize it could be worse.”

Chris Hudgon Haylie Ellison / The Mainstream
Chris Hudgon
Haylie Ellison / The Mainstream



Teddy Harris, a psychology major, said that she believes it is important to be thankful because “you never truly appreciate what you have until it disappears.” She said that being thankful is important so people don’t take things for granted. “Being thankful makes you stop and think about how precious things really are,” Harris said. “Especially when I am feeling extremely down, just taking a step back and being thankful for what I have and just appreciating things in general helps you acknowledge that things aren’t as bad as I think it is.”