Emma McMahon receives scholarship in honor of girl slain in Giffords shooting

People gather for a vigil to honor the victims of the January shooting. (File photo by Jay Westcott).

Christina-Taylor Green was killed in January when a gunman opened fire at an event for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Emma McMahon was there that day as well. Now she is the first recipient of a scholarship in honor of the killed 9-year-old.

“We heard about the Congress on your corner event on January 8th and my whole family decided to go out,” McMahon said.

“We were talking to woman in front of us about college and all of a sudden I heard what I thought were fireworks,” she recalls.

Just a few feet from McMahon, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire at Gifford and bystanders who had come to meet her.

“I felt my mother get over me,” the teenager says, “Her arm was over my head and he was shooting under her arm trying to get me.”

Her mother was shot three times in the shoulder and back, but survived. Giffords was critically injured and six people were killed in the rampage.

Among the killed was 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, a straight-A student with a passion for politics.

Christina's parents and a D.C.-based organization called "running start" have founded a memorial scholarship in Christina’s honor for girls from Arizona interested in politics.

“We were worried after the shooting that women, people would be turned away from politics,” said the organization’s founder Susannah Shakow.

McMahon was chosen as the scholarship’s first recipient. McMahon, who just graduated high school, says she loves politics and intends to run for office one day.

“Emma wrote in her essay about the fact that this experience actually heightened her resolve to run for office,” Shakow said. “I like that message.”

The scholarship brought McMahon to D.C., where she took part in a one-week conference to teach 50 female high school students how to become political leaders.

“I feel so honored that they chose me to carry her on her dreams,” she said. “Out of tragedy can come strength.”

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