Leslie Geraldine Sherman
Major: History and International Relations (Honors Program)
Hometown: Springfield, VA
High School: West Springfield (Fairfax County, VA) - Class of 2005
Died along with Prof. Couture-Nowak and 10 other students in French class.
Audio Remembrances From NPR (visit NPR's VT Remembrance Page to listen):
Leslie Sherman's Friend Buddy Miller: She 'Was So Selfless, Was Always Nice'
Personal Remembrances From Family/Friends/Colleagues
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Newspaper Remembrance Stories
Sophomore Had Overcome Her
When she began working at Tech's West End Market dining facility a year and a half ago, Leslie Sherman was shy and didn't have a lot to say, operations manager Jamie Parnell recalled Wednesday.
"She came out of her shell more and more as she got used to going to college," Parnell said. "It was nice to see her transform."
Sherman worked in the Chop House, where the school serves such things as steak and lobster, and Bistro Firenze, specializing in pizza.
"She was moving up to be a shop supervisor," Parnell said, overseeing a night crew of student workers.
"She always had a positive attitude ... and tried to cheer other people up."
Sherman didn't talk a lot about school, Parnell said, although he believed she was doing well academically. "She liked to play basketball, and she had a lot of friends through work -- co-workers and customers."
Fairfax County Public Schools would not confirm information, but the West Springfield High School Web site shows that Sherman was a member of the class of 2005. She was an honor roll student and a member of the National Honor Society.
As of Wednesday, Parnell said he had not received any information about a funeral for Sherman, but "quite a few people from here are going up there when we get word about what's going on."
"She was an outstanding young woman. She'll truly be missed by everybody here."
-- Cody Lowe (Roanoke Times, 4/18/07)
York Times Profile:
Leslie G. Sherman, 20, a sophomore history major from Springfield, Va., loved running, history, foreign languages and making friends laugh.
"She was just amazing," said Deepika R. Chadive, 19, a fellow sophomore who played basketball with Ms. Sherman when the two were students at West Springfield High School. "Not only was she very good, she was very spirited," Ms. Chadive said of Ms. Sherman's skills on the court. "She was always very enthusiastic. Even if we were down 50 points, she would always give us a pat on the back."
Ms. Sherman never seemed to have "anything bad to say about anyone," Ms. Chadive said. "She was always joking around and smiling. She was always trying to make people smile."
Ms. Sherman, who was passionate about studying history even as a high school student, often took some ribbing from her friends because of her interest in the subject, Ms. Chadive said. "We used to tell her, 'It's illegal to love history as much as you do.' "
Undeterred, Ms. Sherman vowed she would become a historian someday.
She died in her French class on Monday morning.
Sophomore had a passion for languages
Leslie Sherman had just spent part of her spring break visiting her grandparents' orchard in Kennewick, Wash. Her grandmother, Gerry Adams, got the thank-you note just a few days ago.
"I'm her grandma, so I'm prejudiced," Adams said. "But she was a wonderful girl. She was responsible, meticulous, she had beautiful handwriting. She never ever didn't write a thank-you note."
Sherman, 20, of Springfield, Va., and her younger sister, a student at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, helped make brochures for their grandparents, who run a chocolate factory in addition to growing cherries, peaches, apricots and apples.
As a birthday present to the girls, their parents planned to send them to the farm for another visit this summer, Adams said.
A sophomore majoring in history, Sherman also planned to spend part of her summer studying in Russia. "Foreign languages were one of her passions," Adams said. "Anything about history was just right up her alley."
During her senior year at West Springfield High School, Sherman belonged to the National Honor Society and was a Social Studies department medal winner. Sherman also was a runner who recently completed a marathon, Adams said.
Washington Post Profile:
Leslie Sherman, 20, was the unofficial team cheerleader, whatever the team.
As a student at West Springfield High School, she ran on the cross-country and track teams, played basketball and was president of the history honor society. At Virginia Tech, she declared majors in history and international studies and planned to study in Russia this summer after finishing her sophomore year. She ran regularly, though she did not join the college cross-country team, and was training for a marathon in the fall.
"She put everything she had into everything she did," said Emily Grossman, a freshman at Florida State University who became friends with Sherman through the West Springfield cross-country team.
Grossman said that she was not a talented long-distance runner but that Sherman motivated her to keep going when she was tired. Sherman always led the applause when someone crossed the finish line and provided an encouraging word when a teammate was struggling.
"She always kept telling me: 'You can do it. It's just another mile or two or six,' " Grossman said with a laugh. "She cheered us all on."
Sherman, who was killed in French class, developed a passion for the language in high school as a student and a member of the French Club. She talked about studying in both Russia and France, friends said.
"Leslie was so full of energy, always smiled, worked hard, and made others smile," high school classmate Samantha Esau said on a Facebook group page.
To celebrate Sherman's life, Grossman and others are planning a summer memorial run in Springfield -- Sherman's home town -- to raise scholarship money for West Springfield High. After hearing of Sherman's death, Grossman said, she sent invitations to about 75 people via Facebook. By the next day, 350 people had joined the group.
-- Megan Greenwell, The Washington Post
Chronicle of Higher Education Profile:
Leslie Sherman, 20, was going to study abroad in Russia this summer. She was planning a trip to visit her cousins and grandparents on the West Coast. And she was working toward degrees in history and international studies.
Ms. Sherman had a lot of plans.
“She had it together,” says her grandmother, Gerry T. Adams, who lives in Kennewick, Wash. “I think she would have made a difference wherever she went. It’s silly to say she would have changed the world, but she would have had a big impact on those around her.”
Ms. Sherman, a sophomore from Springfield, Va., was intelligent, studious, and warm, though she was somewhat shy, her grandmother says. About a month ago, she and her sister, Lisa, a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, stayed up all night reading stories their grandmother had written years ago.
“Leslie wrote a nice thank-you note saying how much she enjoyed that,” Ms. Adams says. “She was always so respectful.”
Ms. Sherman was on the track team at West Springfield High School and continued running for enjoyment in college. Her friends have formed a group, “Run for Leslie,” on the networking site Facebook and are planning to hold a race in her memory. On that site and another tribute page, friends describe Ms. Sherman as caring and energetic, with a constant smile.
She was that way since she was a baby, says her grandmother. “There will always be a blank place in our hearts.”
An 'Abundant Life' of Enthusiasm and Achievement
The Washington Post (Thursday, April 26, 2007; B01)
Leslie Sherman ran a marathon. She met one of her idols, historian David McCullough. She traveled to Argentina and Ecuador. She marched with civil rights activists in Alabama. She rebuilt homes in New Orleans, donated blood regularly and cut off her hair to donate to children in need of wigs.
"You just knew this was a kid who was going to change the world," said James A. Percoco, Sherman's history teacher during her senior year at West Springfield High School. "She already had."
Hundreds of family members, classmates and friends gathered at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria yesterday to celebrate and mourn the life of Sherman, one of 32 students and teachers killed by a gunman at Virginia Tech on April 16, a week after her 20th birthday.
Proudly displaying maroon and orange ribbons, they prayed that God might help them become more like Sherman.
"She showed us, in everything she did, how to live an abundant life," said the Rev. Robert R. Laha Jr., the church's pastor.
Sherman, whose parents served in the military, was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
In the 10 days since her death, Sherman's friends have praised her, sharing stories about the passion the sophomore brought to all aspects of her life. Emily Grossman, a cross-country teammate at West Springfield who attends Florida State University, said Sherman became an unofficial cheerleader, encouraging everyone to keep going.
"She always kept telling me: 'You can do it. It's just another mile or two or six,' " Grossman said. "She cheered us all on."
Sherman ran cross-country and track in all four years of high school and was also an academic star. The president of the history honor society, she was named the social studies department's top student in the Class of 2005. She was accepted into the honors program at Virginia Tech and had enough credits from Advanced Placement classes that she could have graduated a year early with a double major in history and international studies.
Although she excelled in every subject, teachers said, Sherman was particularly devoted to history. She took several AP classes within the department, plus Applied History, Percoco's senior-level course in which he led students on a "civil rights pilgrimage" to mark the 40th anniversary of the start of the civil rights movement.
During the trip to Montgomery and Selma, Ala., Sherman was inspired by her conversations with civil rights activists John Lewis and Coretta Scott King, Percoco said. At Virginia Tech, she took another class about the civil rights movement and helped pay for her education by washing dishes in an on-campus eatery because one of the activists told her he put himself through college that way.
"I have this incredible memory of her standing with 10,000 other people on the Edmund Pettis Bridge singing civil rights anthems," Percoco said. "She was just so excited about it."
When Sherman found out that a student in Percoco's class was not planning to travel to Alabama because he couldn't afford it, she told the teacher she wanted to help raise money to make sure he made the trip. The student was deeply moved upon learning of Sherman's generosity at the end of the school year, Percoco said.
"She was a master at merging spirit and mind," he said. "That's what her great gift was. It was not a matter of pursuing intellectual knowledge for intellectual knowledge's sake."
Sherman also became fascinated with Russian history and language. She was planning a three-week trip to Moscow this summer and a semester abroad there next spring. She was still thinking about how to make the best use of her academic interests and her desire to help people after graduation and had recently considered joining the Peace Corps.
Teachers and friends said they knew that Sherman would have continued to dedicate her life to helping people. Last Thanksgiving, she spent a long weekend rebuilding New Orleans homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and helped repair her grandmother's house in Mississippi.
"She wanted to help people in any way she could, whether that was rebuilding a house or just smiling at you in the hallway," said Amy LaCrosse, a friend from West Springfield.
LaCrosse said Sherman earned the respect of her classmates because of her intelligence and kindness.
"Even in high school, where there's all that drama, I never heard a single bad thing about her," LaCrosse said. "In class, she would listen a lot so she could formulate her opinion, and then she would bring up something nobody had thought of. And then it was like, 'Oh, wow,' and no one would talk after that."
Several friends said they assumed Sherman would write a book, probably several of them. Although she never got that chance, some of her insights on history will be published next year in a book by Percoco about Lincoln monuments.
"She's the star of the first chapter," said Percoco, who has kept a photo of Sherman with McCullough on his desk since she graduated. "The book will be another kind of tribute to her legacy."
Virginia Tech Magazine
Leslie Geraldine Sherman, a junior in the Virginia Tech Honors Program majoring in history and international relations, was an inspiration, a young woman who could literally “do it all” and excel.
For Leslie, her hometown of Springfield, Va., was a base from which to explore the world. She loved photography, visiting historical sites and museums—particularly those relating to early American history—reading, running, and traveling throughout the United States (Seattle was a favorite location) and around the world. She had made two trips to Argentina and one to Ecuador that she paid for herself with money she had earned and saved. Within the past year, she made trips with her mother to Jamaica and to London. Her next area of study was to be Russia; she planned to learn the language and culture. She was scheduled to spend the first summer semester in a six-week program in Moscow, Russia, with a side trip to St. Petersburg.
In addition to her superior academic achievements, Leslie felt a driving need to help those who were less fortunate, often volunteering her personal time and giving of herself. Since childhood, she gave half what she had to others who had none. She was a student volunteer at a retirement home, a Special Olympics coach at West Potomac High School, a tutor, cherished daughter, devoted older sister, beloved granddaughter, admired cousin, loyal friend, and trusted master of her dog, Winnie.
Last fall, Leslie ran the Marine Corps Marathon in four hours and two minutes. She was looking forward to running future marathons—possibly the upcoming New York City Marathon. She worked about 20 hours per week as a student supervisor in the West End Market, a dining hall on the Virginia Tech campus.
Leslie wanted to continue serving those less fortunate by joining the Peace Corps upon graduation. She then hoped to pursue a career with the U.S. Department of State.
She had immeasurable integrity, courage, and strength and was a gift to all who knew her.
Through the Virginia Tech Foundation, the Leslie Geraldine Sherman Memorial Scholarship has been established at Virginia Tech in her memory. For more information and/or to donate to this memorial fund, see VT's Hokie Spirit Memorial Funds page.