Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Jeremy Herbstritt: Romance blossomed quickly for 'outgoing’ and 'friendly’ grad student

Jeremy Herbstritt

  • Age: 27
  • Class: Graduate student
  • Major: Civil engineering
  • Hometown: Bellefonte, Pa.
  • Blacksburg residence: Cardinal Court


Alexis Bozzo and her boyfriend, Jeremy Herbstritt, talked for a good hour on the telephone before both went to bed Sunday night.

They said they loved each other and then he texted her again. “Good night VT Turkey, love your favorite Nittany Lion,” he wrote.

That was the last Bozzo, 22, from Maplewood, N.J., heard from her boyfriend of six months.

Herbstritt, 27, was in his second semester pursuing a master’s degree in civil engineering at Virginia Tech. He was deeply loyal to Penn State, where he completed his undergraduate degree.

Monday morning, a gunman shot and killed him while he worked as a teaching assistant in Norris Hall.

Bozzo, a fifth-year senior, was in Richmond when she heard about the chaos. At noon, she learned the shooting had occurred at Norris Hall.

“When they showed a picture of Norris Hall, my heart just dropped because he had classes in there,” she said.

Herbstritt was teaching a 9 a.m. class in Norris 206. When Bozzo learned that, she exclaimed, “Oh my God, that’s where Jeremy is at.”

Bozzo called her boyfriend’s parents, Michael and Peggy Herbstritt. He came from a close-knit family and was the oldest of four children, she said. His father works as an electrical engineer at Penn State and his mother is a nurse.

Herbstritt’s passion was running. He shared it with his family, and they often ran together. On Monday, his sister Jen was running the Boston Marathon and the family was in Boston to support her.

Jen “called me right after the marathon and was like, 'What the heck is going on?’ ” Bozzo said.

“He was just the most outgoing person,” Bozzo said. He had lots of friends and was friendly with several of the students he taught.

After they began dating in October, Bozzo and Herbstritt quickly became serious. They spent Thanksgiving together in Bellefonte, Pa., at his parents’ house and then celebrated Easter in Vienna, Va., with his grandfather and uncle.

Bozzo had just been accepted to master’s programs at various universities, including Clemson and Rutgers. Herbstritt said that he would move to wherever Bozzo wanted to study. “He wanted to be with me as much as possible,” she said.

Herbstritt recently received a Susman Internship, which would have funded his research about dams on the Roanoke River in North Carolina.

Monday night, Bozzo talked to Herbstritt’s mother, who she remembers saying, “I just can’t imagine life with out Jeremy.”

Bozzo said she knows how his mother feels. She feels the same way.

— Jessica Marcy

Weather Journal

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