These images chronicle a day spent with survivor of the Aztec High School shooting, Sierra Sanders for an article for Buzzfeed News which examines the impact of trauma on students who graduated the year of a shooting. Sierra, a senior when the Dec. 7, shooting happened has decided to pursue a career in criminal justice due to her passion to end school shootings. Sierra was in the building where Casey Jordan Marquez, a senior, and Francisco Fernandez, a junior, lost their lives. The shooter took his own life a few doors down from Sierra’s classroom. Since the shooting she and her family, (her younger sister, Daniella, a freshman during the time of the shooting was in the classroom below Sierra’s, and has suffered from depression, PTSD and anxiety), have attempted to rebuild their lives. I spent a full day with her and her family and attended a ride along she had with New Mexico State Police. “I just knew I needed to do something. ... This is me trying to make a difference,” she said. Article by Amber Jamieson.
Adrianna, Sierra’s older sister messes with her hair while they wait for their younger sister Daniella (not pictured) to get out of class to head to her counseling appointment. Ever since the shooting, Daniella has suffered from PTSD, anxiety and depression. She was a freshman at the time of the shooting and in the classroom below Sierra’s.
Sierra stands in front of her former high school on Wednesday afternoon. Sierra was in the building to the left on the day of the shooting, her classroom was only a few doors down from where the shooter committed suicide.
Sierra can be seen from the backseat of a patrol unit during her ride along with New Mexico State Police on Wednesday morning. One of the key reasons for Sanders deciding to pursue a career in criminal justice was after the Aztec High School shooting on Dec. 7, 2017. She changed her major from education to criminal justice because of her passion to end school shootings. "I just felt like I needed to do something, I just can't sit back and watch it happen again and again. For me being a police officer that is me doing something. That's me trying to do what I can so that doesn't happen again."
Officer Nate Oliver demonstrates how to look up license plates during a routine traffic stop around Farmington, N.M. on May 15.
Sierra asks Officer Oliver a question outside the Farmington Court House. Sierra has gone on countless ride alongs with different law enforcement agencies in the New Mexico, including State Police, Las Cruces Police Department, and the Aztec Police Department.
The Sanders gather to eat dinner on Wednesday afternoon. The family celebrated an early birthday dinner for Daniella while her oldest sisters were still in town.
A stone statue in front of Aztec High School on May 15 . Days after the Dec. 7, shooting teachers, students and families left flowers and gifts on the letters and base of the statue.
Daniella licks Sierra’s face as Sierra goes in for an embrace before dinner Wednesday evening. Both Sierra and Daniella are survivors of the Aztec High School shooting. For Sierra her Christian faith has been one of her main comforts in attempts to find healing.
Sierra’s dad, Bryan Sanders, thumps her drink during her lunch visit to the school on Wednesday afternoon. Sanders is an Athletic Director at Aztec High School and has been in the position for five years. Adrianna Sanders, Sierra's older sister also stopped by to visit her dad. Adrianna attends New Mexico State with Sierra and studies mechanical engineering. Bryan says adjusting to life after the shooting for teachers and administrators has been difficult. "...It's hard when you have kids that are struggling and you go, 'okay, is it struggling because of the residuals of the shooting or are they just struggling because they struggle,'" he said.
Zachary Sanders, 12, jokes around in a clown costume before dinner on May 15.
Sierra teases her younger sister Daniella before dinner by taking away her birthday present. The family celebrated an early birthday dinner for Daniella while her oldest sisters were still in town.
Sierra and Daniella mess around with a clown costume before dinner.
Sierra relaxes on the couch with her cousin Wyatt Salisbury, 7, while she talks to her mom Charda about leaving for her summer job in the morning. Sierra will be a summer Camp Counselor in Glorieta, New Mexico from May until August before returning to NMSU.
Arriana, Sierra, and Daniella put their hair up in buns to see how identical they look in a photo during their little brothers baseball game on May 15.
Sierra, middle, and her sisters laugh at their selfie during their little brother Zachary's baseball game Wednesday evening in Farmington, N.M.