Michelle Renee Bratton, 23, was a determined spirit, as evidenced by her numerous accomplishments as a National Collegiate Athletic Association diver, choral awards and scholastic recognitions.
Michelle's parents, William and Mary, often reminisce about their daughter and the indescribable joy she brought them during her short life. "She was a big fan of Madonna," William said. "I remember a month before she died, Michelle drove down to Washington, D.C., for a Madonna concert."
His wife continued. "She called us in the middle of the concert, held the phone up and said, 'Guys, you have to listen to this!'"
Michelle dived competitively in college, worked as a lifeguard and was a "sun goddess," her mother recalled. And "a pretty good shopper too," her father said.
At the State University of New York College at Oswego, Michelle belonged to the Sigma Delta Tau sorority. "She would mentor new sorority people, get them ready for rush, and keep them strong," according to her mother. "She would always be the one behind them giving them that extra push."
Having just completed college in May of 2000, Michelle set out to make her mark on New York City. She moved into a small apartment in Yonkers with her sister before applying for a job in the marketing department of eSpeed, a division of Cantor Fitzgerald, in the World Trade Center.
Michelle's job application was accepted and on August 6th, 2001, she began working on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower. She enjoyed her short four weeks as a member of the Cantor family, relishing the new challenges and opportunities. As well, Michelle was absolutely ecstatic about working on top of the world.
Michelle loved working in the city and bathed in the life-at-your-fingertips feeling it brings. "Every single day, she went from dawn till dusk. When she did take time off, she would sleep for 15 hours. You couldn't wake her up," her mother said.
On September 11th, after the first plane hit her tower, Michelle called her parents to tell them that she loved them. "We told her that we loved her and that we were going to be waiting for her when she got home," her father said. "We're basically still waiting."