Emily Hilscher

Emily Hilscher

Hometown: Woodville, Va.

Age: 19

Class: Freshman

Major: Animal Science

Location: West Ambler Johnston Hall dormitory

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Profile: Emily Jane Hilscher, a 19-year-old from Woodville, Va., was on her way to becoming a veterinarian.

A freshman, she was majoring in animal and poultry sciences with a concentration in equine science. She was known around her rural Rappahannock County community as an animal lover, said family friend John W. McCarthy, also the county's administrator. She was a member of Virginia Tech's equestrian team.

"She worked in a vet's office here last summer," said McCarthy, who has known Hilscher since she was a small child.

She graduated last year from tiny Rappahannock County High, in the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains. The Hilscher family lives on a rambling property up a long driveway, McCarthy said. On MySpace, Hilscher lists her home town as "Crappahannock," in the way teens do, but says she makes the "best of" living in the rural county of 7,000 residents with no fast-food outlets and only one stoplight. She said her friends are what keep her smiling.

Bob Chappell, superintendent of the Rappahannock County schools, issued a statement yesterday saying the community was mourning the loss of this "bright, talented young lady."

Hilscher leaves behind a brother and an older sister, McCarthy said.

On her MySpace profile, the blue-eyed Hilscher calls herself the "pixie" and says she's into "snowboarding, riding and music."

On a group devoted to her memory on Facebook, a fellow student says he'll remember her walking home from horseback riding at Tech.

The teenager said she liked every kind of music except country and classical. "Give me something I can bang my head to or dance like crazy and I'm all over it," she wrote.

McCarthy said Hilscher and his oldest daughter, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, had been friends since childhood. "She's crying her eyes out," McCarthy said.

He said Hilscher was a "caring, thoughtful person" whose "endless potential was cut off long before it should have been."

-- Daniela Deane, The Washington Post

© 2007 The Washington Post Company