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’Dream College’ Life Remembered

Family and friends remember Maxine Turner.

She was a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a friend, a student, a volunteer and a teammate. She was many things to many people, but regardless of her role, Maxine Shelly Turner found joy in everything she did.

"Whatever she got involved in, she gave it all," said Paul Turner, Maxine’s father, in a family statement released to The Connection.

"Nobody had to push her into anything. She was a self-starter," said her mother, Susan Turner. "In fact, if you tried to push her, it wouldn’t make any difference, because she was so focused on what she wanted to focus on and she was so determined that she was right."

Maxine Turner, 22, a lifelong Vienna resident was killed in the murderous rampage on the Virginia Tech campus that left 33 dead on Monday, April 16. Maxine Turner was a senior, weeks away from a degree in chemical engineering, whose focus and determination had already landed her a job in Elkton, Md., with W.L. Gore & Associates, the makers of Gore-Tex. Having already secured a job before college graduation is just one of many examples of how Maxine Turner was always at least a step, and most of the time a few leaps, ahead of her peers.

In fourth grade Maxine Turner began playing the violin. She played through high school, and brought the instrument with her to Virginia Tech. Her musical talent inspired her brother Anthony to begin playing the instrument. "Today, Anthony is the first chair violin in the symphonic orchestra at Thoreau Middle School," said Paul Turner.

Throughout elementary school, middle school and high school, Maxine Turner excelled in math, as well as other subjects. As an eighth grader at Thoreau, she was bused with 13 other students to James Madison High School for a first period geometry class. The high school environment did not intimidate her.

"She wasn’t nervous at all," said Susan Turner.

"I’d have to say Maxine was never nervous about anything like that," said neighbor and family friend Karen Maxwell. "She was ultimately self-confident."

In eighth grade Maxine Turner took the SATs for the first time. It was a requirement for a Johns Hopkins summer program for gifted youth. She scored an 1100. When the time came for her to take the SATs for college admission four years later, she scored a 1500, including a perfect 800 in math. She graduated from Madison in 2003 with an Advanced Placement diploma, and started college with 29 credits.

HER DETERMINATION was also evident in her decision to attend Virginia Tech. Susan Turner took her daughter to visit colleges, and she fell in love with Virginia Tech at first sight. "We pulled into Tech and she took one look at the campus and she said, ‘This is exactly what has been in my dreams every time I’ve thought about going to school,’" said Susan Turner in the family statement. Although Maxine Turner was eager to become a Hokie, her parents pushed her to apply to other schools. She was accepted to Johns Hopkins and Carnegie Mellon, but chose Virginia Tech over those schools. "She loved Virginia Tech," said Susan Turner.

Throughout her life, Maxine Turner assumed leadership roles. She was the president of Madison’s Swing Dance Club, an officer with Virginia Tech’s Tae kwon do club and one of the founding members of Virginia Tech’s chapter of Alpha Omega Epsilon, a national sorority for women in engineering. Even though she was an outstanding student and kept herself busy with other hobbies and interests, Maxine Turner also found time to volunteer at a dog shelter.

Since the age of 16, Maxine Turner also worked at Trousseau, a bridal and lingerie shop in Vienna. Although she often found summer work through engineering internships, she always returned to the Vienna store, if only for a few days. "Maxine is very loyal. She liked working there. She liked the people," said Susan Turner.

"I KNEW HER my whole life," said Laura Hackett, Maxine Turner’s friend since kindergarten. The two also attended Louise Archer Elementary School, Thoreau Middle School and Madison High School together. Hackett’s mother, Diane Hackett, was Maxine Turner’s physical education teacher in ninth and 10th grade.

"She was a very bright child, with just this beautiful smile," said Diane Hackett. "Her intelligence is what allowed her to put so much on her plate." Her inquisitiveness and willingness to help others defined her, said Diane Hackett. She added that Maxine Turner was not one to hide her intelligence, and was always ready to use it to help others. Whenever she did offer assistance, she did in a way that did not put anyone down. "Maxine was always one who would go over and lend a hand to someone who was struggling," said Diane Hackett. She also credited the Turner family with providing a nurturing environment for Maxine’s intelligence to develop. "So many kids just withdraw," said Diane Hackett. "She took advantage of that [her intelligence], and she came from a family that was able to support her."

Laura Hackett told story after story about her adventures with her best friend. She even took a job at Trousseau, realizing she spent a lot of time at the store when her friend was working, so she figured she might as well get paid for it. Laura Hackett said the two of them always had fun and did goofy things. They also went swing dancing, and often they would take a trip to the Smithsonian museums in the city.

"She was my science nerd I could hang out with and not feel like a nerd," said Laura Hackett. "She’s in every story I have to tell. She was so much a part of my life. I can’t think of anything in elementary school, middle school or high school without thinking about Maxine," she said.

MAXINE TURNER NEVER stopped learning. Even after completing all of her required coursework for the chemical engineering major, she decided to take a number of electives at Virginia Tech. She chose courses on film and literature, Chinese medicine and elementary German. Family friend Mark Zimpelman said Maxine Turner had a bright future ahead of her. "She was going to contribute," said Zimpelman, of Vienna. "I’m an engineer and she was going to be an engineer and she had a beautiful future ahead of her."

Laura Hackett said her friend was so proud that she was going to become a female engineer. Although it was too early to talk about what legacy Maxine Turner would leave in the hearts of those who knew her, Laura Hackett had this to offer: "Finding joy in everything. Doing whatever you want to do and doing it to the best of your ability." She added that Maxine Turner was compassionate and always exuded kindness and fairness to others. "She was everything you would want someone to be," said Laura Hackett.

Maxine Turner was born on Jan. 15, 1985. She adored her grandfather, Theodore Malinowski, whom she called ‘Granddan,’ until a kindergarten friend told her he is not her Granddan but her Granddad. She and her ‘Granddan’ spent a lot of time watching Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, which remained some of her favorite shows throughout life.

Maxine Turner is the daughter of Paul and Susan Turner, sister of Anthony Turner, granddaughter of Theodore Malinowski and Patricia Turner and a friend to many.