My Role Model: X Gonzalez


Noor Kanaan

Picture this: You’re at school on a typical Wednesday in the auditorium. You don’t think much of it as you and your classmates walk out to the hallway. Suddenly, you’re rushed back inside the gym with the information that there’s an active shooter in the building. You don’t know if you’re going to make it home that day. That exact horror turned into a reality for X (aka Emma) Gonzalez on February 14, 2018.

Trauma comes with being a victim of a school shooting. Usually, the mere thought of the situation can send the victim into a full blown panic attack on the spot. So to be able to talk about a specific situation multiple times in front of crowds takes a lot of courage. That is why X Gonzalez is a role model to me. They are a survivor and a courageous motivational speaker.

Let’s go back to the day it happened. You may know them as “Emma Gonzalez ”, however they identify using they/them pronouns and go by the name “X”. X, 18, spent two hours under an auditorium chair with their classmates unsure of whether they’d make it out or not. Their only updates were coming from Google as the shooter went on a spree for 6 minutes and 20 seconds. 17 students died and another 17 students were injured. Lots of X’s classmates were a part of those 34 kids.

When CNN was reporting on the incident, they needed a student, alongside Anderson Cooper, to interview on the subject. X had initially jumped at the opportunity and they made their debut as a public speaker during this interview. From then on, they’ve spoken at multiple rallies, some to promote gun control, others to share their experience. Within a day of joining the social media platform, “Twitter”, they have gained almost a million followers. From then on, they have continued to speak out with the March For Our Lives movement and even majored in activism/public speaking at New College of Florida. What stands out to me about their actions is that despite going through such a traumatic experience, they use their story for the benefit of others. 

September 15-October 15 is known as Hispanic Heritage Month. X Gonzalez, being of Cuban descent, can be seen as an Hispanic-American role model to people of all ages. Going through what they did at such a young age and being able to fight for the lives of others through public speaking really showcases their courageous characteristics among their other outstanding qualities. Not many people can go through what they did and be able to say the same thing. 

Through their speeches, they’ve shown others that if they believe they can, they can use their experiences for good outcomes. However, that does not mean people should do things that trigger a traumatic event in their minds. The opinions stated in this article should not make people think that becoming a speaker is the only way to be brave. 

To whomever reading this, you are brave and courageous simply by getting through it and being here today. It’s okay if you haven’t overcome what you’re dealing with, take it one day at a time. If you are to take anything away from this article, let it be that courage comes in all forms. It can be known as anything from public speaking to saying affirmations to help you get through the day. Be who you are, and do what you think is right.