Prof. Whose Tweets Found 9/11 Photo Owner: I Never Would Have Stopped - NBC 7 San Diego
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Prof. Whose Tweets Found 9/11 Photo Owner: I Never Would Have Stopped

The power of social media has reconnected a man with a photo that was once sitting on his desk on the 77th floor of the World Trade Center.

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    Prof. Who Returned 9/11 Photo: I Never Would Have Stopped

    Elizabeth Stringer Keefe discusses her 13-year journey to return a photo found at the wreckage of Ground Zero to its owner. (Published Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014)

    The professor who reconnected a man with a photo that was once sitting on his desk on the 77th floor of the World Trade Center says that even after thirteen years, she would have kept going on her mission to track down the story behind the picture.

    "It was just something I committed myself to," Elizabeth Stringer Keefe said in an interview with NECN. 

    Keefe, an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Education at Lesley University, and Ph.D. candidate at Boston College, first learned of the photo from a friend who found it at Ground Zero, just a few weeks after Sept. 11 attacks.

    "The friend who gave it to me said one thing to me that I've never repeated in an interview. And the thing she said was that she picked up the photo because it was the only sign of life in the rubble," she said.

    Moved by that statement, Keefe posted the photo to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on the anniversary of the attacks for years, hoping to find the people in the picture alive and well.

    This year, her post went viral. Fred Mahe, the owner of the photo, saw it circulating online and contacted Keefe, who, with tears, returned it to Mahe. Mahe, who worked in one of the towers but was not yet at work at the time of the attacks, said all the people pictured in the photo are alive.

    Keefe, who teaches students about social media,  said her experience can serve as a lesson about the power of social media and humanity.

    “We teach about using social media and technology ethically in the classroom and in community and it's a nice message about the outpouring of support that people will give," she said. " So many great things have come away from it, so many nice connections."