People would describe Annalee Marshall as tremendous and gorgeous. Others would say she was modest, humble, and down to earth. She loved animals, and worked on several service projects at Virginia Tech. She felt at home here in Blacksburg, where she instantly fell in love with the campus and community.
That community that welcomed her with open arms is now mourning the loss of a fellow Hokie after Marshall was killed from injuries sustained in a two-car accident on Christmas Day in Loudon County, Va.
When the Adamnstown, Md. native stepped on Tech’s campus in 2009 for the first time, it felt like home to her.
“It was one of those innate things she couldn’t even put her finger on," said her mother, Lauren Marshall. "She just knew it was where she wanted to be.”
Marshall was a senior studying Animal and Poultry Sciences with the hopes of going on to attend the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. She had recently been accepted to various study abroad programs that would give her the chance to work with exotic and rare animals overseas.
She loved the sense of community Blacksburg offered her, and saw it as more then just a big football school.
“The people here believed in each other, they believed in the community, and they believed in Virginia Tech,” said Lauren Marshall.
Currently, her family is working with the school to set up a memorial service in February. It is also hoping to establish a scholarship in her honor.
“We feel the love coming from Blacksburg during this hard time,” said Lauren Marshall.
Marshall was involved in several service organizations on campus. She was slated to become the next president of “Help Save the Next Girl.” The organization is meant to “empower young women and encourage community vigilance against violence,” according to President Laura Schneider.
The group was created in honor of Morgan Harrington, the 20-year-old Tech student that disappeared from a Metallica concert in 2009 at the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena.
“Annalee was absolutely instrumental in founding the chapter," Schneider said. "The potential she had was remarkable and she wanted to do so many great things.”
The co-president of the group, Ian Heflin, and Marshall went on a trip to Charlottesville this past October in honor of the third anniversary of Morgan Harrington’s disappearance. The group had hoped several students could make the trip that day, but it ended up only being Marshall and Heflin.
It was during that trip that Marshall said something which has really resonated with the members of Help Save the Next Girl since her death.
“If I have the chance to do service, and make a difference for someone who can’t, how can you not do that?” the group recalled Marshall saying.
Their unofficial motto is now, "how can you not stop and help to do service," based on Marshall's attitude.
Marshall was also involved in the filming and creation of a Public Service Announcement for Help Save the Next Girl. The Greater Washington-Fredericksburg area cable stations have agreed to start showing the PSA on air, starting this week, in her honor.
Jane Lillian Vance, Marshall’s former professor is mourning the loss of one of her closest students. Vance spoke at Marshall’s service in her hometown in Maryland as a representative of Tech.
“Our community is rocked and shaken with sorrow, “ Vance said at her funeral.
Vance remembered Marshall's interest in the portion of her class about Ancient Tibetan teachings on being wise and compassionate.
“She was attracted to that subject because she was that; that was native to her nature,” Vance said. “Most kids who are 20 years old have only discovered what kind of order they like to place at Starbucks. But not Annalee. Annalee was already a part of something bigger then herself.”
In her free time, Marshall loved painting and riding her horse Splash. When she was at home she was active with her dogs, teaching them agility training.
“Before she went to Tech, her home was really the barn,” her mother recalled.
Marshall was also a member of the Equestrian Team on campus and her captain, Danielle Drombrow, a fellow Animal and Poultry Sciences major, recalled her gift with horses.
“She was great around the horses," Drombrow said. "She absolutely loved them. She was such an asset to the team, and always so positive.”
Drombrow described her laughter as contagious, always helping lift the team and encourage them during competitions.
From Equestrian Team to Help Save the Next Girl, Marshall's involvement on campus had a wide impact.
“She wanted to do so many great things, and so many great things will be done in her honor. Her legacy will prevail,” Schneider said.