Shooting Survivor to Deliver Commencement Speech - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Shooting Survivor to Deliver Commencement Speech

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)
 SALISBURY, Md. (WBOC) – It's the day Salisbury University seniors have been waiting for: graduation! At today's ceremony one senior is sharing her story of overcoming obstacles. 

Suvivor and strong – words that are used to describe Salisbury University senior Kristen Loetz. 

“For a while there, I didn't think that I would be able to keep going and get through graduation and everything,” said Loetz. “It's taken a lot of work and a lot of help from a lot of people, but it feels really good to have come this far.” 

On Sept. 3, 2013 Kristen was shot and critically wounded by her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Shallue. Charles “CJ” Abbott was also shot and killed. Then, Shallue shot and killed himself. 

“At first it was just kind of facing what happened to me and what I lost and getting through that,” said Loetz. “Getting back into the nursing program was hard because I was scared to go into hospitals. That was one of the anxieties that I had.” 

To this day, Kristen thinks of what CJ did for her by wearing a bracelet that says “lived a warrior, died a hero.” 

“I wear it every day since I've gotten it. Just a little reminder, always having CJ with me. When I do go for doctors' appointments and things I always end up holding onto it, keeping him with me, thinking what advice would he give me right now or what joke would he be making to make me smile,” said Loetz. 

Kristen is sharing her journey through recovery as commencement speaker for her graduating class. Her message: overcome obstacles. 

“You're always going to be faced with something, no matter what that is there's a way to overcome it and push through it. I was able to do it so I know that you can as well,” said Loetz. 

Loetz will deliver her speech at the 10:30 a.m. commencement at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. Tickets are required. 
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