The third weekend in April at Indiana University usually means that the greatest college weekend, Little 500, has arrived. Unreal parties, special guests around campus and a legendary bike race define the week. Though students cursed out the weather after the men’s race got postponed to Sunday, they still assumed the week would be the highlight of the 2015 for Hoosiers.
This year, though, the third weekend in April at Indiana University was defined not by partying, but by tragedy, lament, and heartbreak after senior Hannah Wilson was murdered.
While campus has been a whirlwind of rumors and speculation, what The Indy Star has confirmed is that Daniel E. Messel, 49, has been charged with the murder after his cell phone was found near Wilson’s feet. Wilson, who was found in a rural area about 30 minutes from her home on campus, died of blunt force trauma to the head.
For more details on the case, you can click here. Now, my lack of providing details is not me being a lazy journalist. I am intentionally being rather vague about the details of Wilson’s death, and this article will tell a story that no other news source has yet to really dive into: the story of Wilson’s life and the legacy she has left.
I feel like this is a much more important story that is not being told: the story of a young woman’s life, not the brutal, heart-wrenching story about how it ended. You may be asking where my credibility is to write about Hannah. Granted, I did not know her to the caliber that her family, her friends and her sorority sisters did, but I was lucky enough to meet Hannah before she passed away.
Hannah was a TA for my Human Sexuality course. Every Wednesday, she and another assistant would lead me and about ten other kids in a discussion section. Our small group would sit in a lecture hall built for a couple hundred, with Hannah usually sitting in front of us on the floor, casual as can be.
I admired her, and that is not always easy to say when you solely know somebody from her classroom personality. Still, Hannah was always genuine when speaking, passionate about her area of study and hilarious throughout the hour-long discussion.
Hannah was the perfect discussion leader for the human sexuality class, as she was intrigued by every facet of the topic from a young age. She grew up admiring the likes of Sue Johanson, the old lady who would give sex advice on a late-night television show. She got extra giddy and reminiscent of the days where she would sneak downstairs and watch the late-night show.
Hannah was going to take a gap year after she graduated to save money (smart girl, right?) She wanted to go to grad school so that she could become a licensed sex therapist and help people who felt they were struggling. You don’t have to be her best friend to tell that she was a naturally giving person, and it only seemed fitting that her dream career was to give other’s a better life.
Hannah was also a senior in Gamma Phi Beta, and was absolutely adored by her friends and sisters. Rightly so, because from the few encounters I was fortunate enough to have with her, I gathered that she was unapologetically herself and that she was accepting of people from all walks of life.
These minor details that I learned during my weekly classes with Hannah are simply scratching the surface. Her ability to shine and make everybody feel welcomed is something that I will greatly miss when going to class.
Though I wish Hannah was able to live out her remarkable life, I have no doubt that her legacy will live on through her loved ones. I even hope that her spirit will live on through anybody who hears her story, which is why I am writing this.
For those of you who were close with Hannah, my heart, thoughts and prayers are going out to you. For those of you who did not have the fortune of meeting her, I am sure that you can understand how heart wrenching this time is in the lives of her friends and family. For anybody who is reading this right now, I encourage to take a few things from Hannah’s story that I have gathered in the past few days.
While we never know what is going to happen to us in the future, we have the ability to make the most of what we are doing in the present. Hannah always had a smile on her face, always talked positively about others and even let us out of class early from time to time (that was always clutch.)
The impact she made while she was alive mirrors the impact her life will make on anybody who hears her story. While we wore different letters, were in different grades and had completely different stories, Wilson’s was one that I admire and wanted to share with you all. Whether you were her best friend or this is the first time you are hearing about Hannah Wilson, I hope that you keep her positivity, passion and story in your heart.
I also hope that you are reminded that life, while a precious gift, is completely unpredictable. We should live every day with caution, care and an aim to make others as happy as we want to be. Hug your sisters extra hard tonight, call your parents and tell them you love them and be thankful of your life.
Be safe, be compassionate, be Hannah.
Rest easy, Hannah.