December 17, 2019
The Tweet Heard ‘Round the World: Student and Father Story Goes National

When Stephanie Veerman ’20 tweeted texts from her dad after he lost her pet hamster on November 24th, she never expected to receive a crash course in what it means to go viral on the Internet.

The Emmanuel College sophomore, her dad and her hamster, Chester, have taken social media by storm with a simple post liked and shared roughly 575,000 times in a matter of two weeks in addition to being picked up initially by Buzzfeed, then by dozens of news and entertainment outlets, including CBS, NBC Today, People, the New York Post, Access Hollywood, the Doctor Oz Show, and Inside Edition.

Veerman's father, who cares for Chester while Stephanie is studying at Emmanuel, noticed Chester had escaped one day when he was cleaning his cage. His panicked texts to his daughter as he searched for the missing hamster became a feel-good story that thousands of people connected with across the globe.  

"It was on my Instagram story at first and people kept saying this is so funny," said Veerman. "So, I said to myself, maybe I should tweet it and see what happens, but I was expecting maybe a hundred [reactions], not half a million, which is crazy."  

As a marketing major with a minor in communication and media studies, Veerman says the experience has been more than just managing requests from news outlets and answering responses to her tweet. It has given her a hands-on perspective of what it is like to work in the industry in which she seeks to pursue a career.  

"It's definitely taught me how to manage my time, as well as how to respond to people in a timely manner," said Veerman. "It's a fifteen-minutes-of-fame kind of thing, so if I don't answer People magazine for two days, there's always another story."  

Veerman's father, Daniel, has been appreciative of how his daughter has spearheaded the situation.  

"[Media outlets] are reaching out to me...but I've told them to go through Stephanie - she's my media consultant and she's just running with the whole thing," he said. "She does everything and lets me know where to be and when."  

As the semester winds down and students head into final exams, Veerman has been working overtime to make sure she's taking care of all of her commitments and coursework. For her mother, Elaine Dalton '87, watching her daughter handle the overall experience of being part of a viral sensation has been a pleasure.  

"I'm impressed with her maturity and level of composure in terms of keeping things in perspective while juggling classes, finals and an off-campus job," she said. "She's having fun with this, but staying humble.  

"I never imagined how many people would relate to the emotion and want to share it on social media," she added. "A feel-good story is always great at any time of year, but it's especially nice during the holiday season."

chester the hamster

steph and her father, daniel, holding chester the hamster Daniel Veerman, Stephanie Veerman '20 and Chester the Hamster

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