HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF)- Those biology department professors who escaped a bullet still faced insurmountable challenges this year both professional and personal.
They are still trying to find their ways. Dr. Debra Moriarity has spent her life looking through a microscope, but this year, she's been under one.
"It's been a very long year."
Dr. Moriarity wouldn't be here if today if the gun, which she says was aimed at her, hadn't jammed.
She says it hasn't been easy coming back to the very building where she lost three co-workers, who were also her friends.
"There were definitely, definitely struggles, but you just say 'I have to do this.'"
A year later, she's now the chair of the biology department, leading the recovery effort and working to rebuild.
"I had to pull into the parking lot, I had to get out, I had to walk in here, and I can be tough when I need to be," said Dr. Moriarity.
She knows tough too. She dealt with an aggressive type of breast cancer five years ago.
To cope, Dr. Moriarity has encouraged her remaining colleagues to take vacations, and to talk more to each other and to professionals.
"You have to be willing to say, sometimes, I'm not fine or I need help, because you will, you'll need help," she said.
Now as head of the department, she plans to carry on the work that her lost colleagues devoted their careers to.
"There are times that it's just a little sad and then I say yeah but you know I know what these people would have wanted. They would have wanted us to continue, to go on to keep the department going and that is what we are doing."