LALA Magazine

Summer 2019

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Page 97 of 147

THE WAY FORWARD P O R T R A I T S B Y J E F F V E S PA 96 Recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas graduate Kai Koerber shares how the 2018 Parkland shooting has given him a new purpose. WHEN I REFLECT ON THE DAY OF THE SHOOTING, I see how the universe saved my life. It's complicated. To really understand this miracle, you would have to understand my bladder cycle. Every day, approximately 20 to 30 minutes before school ends, I go to the bathroom in the freshman building of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On February 14, 2018, when I asked to go to the bathroom my teacher said, "No, someone else is out." A few minutes later, the fire alarm rang, marking the start of the shooting. I would have been there, in the line of fire at that exact moment. I would have died. A two-letter word, a simple "no," is the reason you are reading my words. Why are some people saved and not others? Why was I detoured from death? There is something about knowing you were spared that gives you purpose. The mercy of the universe is why I decided to dedicate my life to the creation of change. I have to make the world a place worth living in since my friends were not given that opportunity. There was a time when I had all of my classes in the freshman building—the building where 17 people were massacred. I remember looking through the main window on the second floor wondering what the rest of high school would be like: "Are the next two years gonna be like an '80s movie?" and "Will I get the girl?" Activism was the furthest thing from my mind. My sights were set on being an engineer who would one day start a rocket company and compete on the world stage with Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. I had it all figured out. It was a bulletproof plan: Be a millionaire by 30 and a billionaire by 35. After the tragedy, I decided the most important thing I could do, as not only a Parkland student, but as a human being, was to fight for common sense gun legislation because I knew that faulty laws and America's romantic obsession with guns had caused my friends to die. So my peers and I went to Tallahassee, Florida to petition our lawmakers to raise the minimum age for assault rifle purchases (it was 18 at the time, compared to 21 to buy a handgun). Before we knew

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