I want to one day be as motivated as Kaylyn Pryor. I want to have two jobs and be interviewing for a third tomorrow. In absolute horror and outrage, I am devastated to share that Kaylyn never made it to that third job interview. She was taken away from us before she could return to Robert Morris University, where she ran track and was planning to pursue a law degree. Kaylyn was walking in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago on November 2, when someone in a vehicle opened fire, killing her just as the sun was setting.
Kaylyn and I were in the same class at Evanston Township High School, the only public school in the Chicagoland suburbs.
I want to write in the hopes of spreading my sadness that this tragedy has occurred, not only to Kaylyn, but to dozens of youth in Chicago and throughout America. This senseless violence has wreaked havoc on my community for far too long, and it *needs to stop*.
Kaylyn was a magnetic presence. So magnetic, in fact, that she took up modeling in the recent months. She won the Mario Tricoci model competition out of 500 contestants and was quoted in the Chicago Tribune saying that modeling was a “passion.” The most rewarding part about this win, at least for the Evanston community, was that it was based primarily on public vote. Every day for the past couple months, it was a part of my daily Internet routine. I checked my e-mail, then Chalk, and then voted for Kaylyn to win her modeling contest. And then she won. And now she’s gone.
It’s extremely difficult to know what do in this situation. I have read dozens of Facebook statuses commemorating her death, saying she will be missed and that God loves her as we all do. She is an angel. She was an angel on earth and is now an angel in heaven. This is all true. However, this outpouring of grief on social media feels empty—not in emotion, but in effect. How many pictures and videos of my classmate will it take for someone to realize just how annihilating and unfair gun violence is to my community? How many news blurbs and statistics do you require to understand that gun regulation is not an issue open to debate—it is an epidemic that needs to be addressed with utmost immediacy?
Unfortunately, Kaylyn is not the first angel to be taken away from Evanston Township High School’s class of 2013. One young man did not even make it to the graduation stage. It is unacceptable that the death of classmate due to gun violence is not an anomaly in my hometown.
I am not a political science major, and I would not consider myself an extremely political person. But I am a friend. Kaylyn was one of the friendliest, most outgoing, and genuinely positive people I have met in my life. She was a person who had dreams and the vision necessary to follow through to achieve her goals. She was well on her way to exceeding all of her dreams, both professional and personal.
But her path was cut off; her dreams taken from her. Kaylyn deserved better, like all victims of gun violence do. These victims are our neighbors, our classmates, our friends, and our family members—something needs, and can, be done to protect them.
You will be missed, Kaylyn.
Molly Sevcik is a third-year in the College majoring in cinema and media studies and English.