In January, Christina-Taylor Green, 9, and Emma McMahon, 18, became connected forever by tragedy. Green and five others lost their lives in the Tucson shooting that injured 13 people, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and McMahon's mom.
"My mother shielded me from the bullets and was shot three times," said McMahon. "It wasn't until later that I realized how close he had been to shooting me. She had her arms right by my head, right where her arm was in front of my head she was shot."
McMahon and Green shared more than just a tragedy, although nine years apart they shared a common passion, a love of politics. Green's parents selected McMahon as the first recipient of a scholarship named in honor of their daughter.
"Like Christina-Taylor Green, my first experience with politics was in elementary school, eight years ago. My fourth grade class decided to write a proposal to build a dog park at our new city park," McMahon told ABC News. "Even though our plan seemed to have failed, I fell in love [with] the political process: the give and take of ideas."
The scholarship will allow McMahon to attend to attend Running Start's political leadership program this summer in Washington D.C.
McMahon had been a congressional page for Giffords, but never had the opportunity to take a photo with the congresswoman. She attended the "Congress on Your Corner" event with her mother on that January day in hopes of getting that picture with her heroine.
"Many people have asked me whether the shooting has changed my mind about wanting to go into politics. 'Absolutely not,' is my answer," McMahon wrote. "I still want to serve my country, and if she had lived, I think Christina-Taylor would have said the same thing."
Emma McMahon's Essay for the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Scholarship:
Like Christina-Taylor Green, my first experience with politics was in elementary school, eight years ago. My fourth grade class decided to write a proposal to build a dog park at our new city park. Although we were only elementary students, we participated in all aspects of the project: surveying the land, drawing up proposals and writing speeches. We were successful in getting on the agenda of the town Council meeting. I was selected to be the one to present the proposal, so I practiced my speech carefully. We listened to the debate intently. In the end, the council decided to buy more police cars instead of building a dog park. Even though our plan seemed to have failed, I fell in love the political process: the give and take of ideas.
My fascination with politics continued into high school. During the 2010 summer term, I was Gabrielle Giffords' congressional page. It was exhilarating, watching the way our government works from the House floor. I brushed shoulders with politicians in the news, and tracked bills as they were debated. My experience made me want to devote my life to serving the people of my country as an elected official.
I was appointed Gabrielle Giffords page during the summer congressional session. But, I was so busy during my time as a congressional page, that I did not get a picture with her. So, I, and my family decided to go to her Jan, 8 "Congress on Your Corner" event a few miles from my home in southern Arizona. Like Christina, I was in line that day when the shooting began.
My mother shielded me from the bullets and was shot three times. When the noise stopped, I did not completely understand what had happened. I looked to my right and saw the gunman pinned to the ground, and then to my left where I saw blood. It was then that I whipped out my cell phone and called 911. My mother was holding a white cloth against her back. I started to press the butcher's shirt harder into her back. Even in my stunned state, I realized that crying wouldn't help. I force myself to be calm, and to help wherever I could.
Many people have asked me whether the shooting has changed my mind about wanting to go into politics. "Absolutely not," is my answer. I still want to serve my country, and, if she had lived, I think Christina-Taylor would have said the same thing. I know I need both strategic and practical skills in order to run for office. A scholarship to the Young Women Political Leadership Program would help me gain those skills, and start me on my path serving others.