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Author remembers Sweet Briar College struggle through pictures

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(Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

AMHERST COUNTY (WSLS 10) - This week marks the two year anniversary of the fight to save Sweet Briar College.

WSLS 10 was there when the decision to close the school was first announced on March 3rd, 2015.

Students, faculty, and alumni fought that decision and ultimately won.

Sunday, one woman released a book telling that story.

Becky Lambert said, when she heard her school was closing, her first thought was to find her camera.

"If i wasn't going to be able to go back, i wanted to have pictures for myself, because that's my, that's where i go to decompress," said Lambert.

"An edict comes across saying we're closing Sweet Briar. This community was just shattered, I mean it was unbelievable that something like that happened," said Amherst Historical Society President Octavia Starbuck.

Starbuck said it did not take long for the resistance against the decision to rise up.

"Within four months, things got pulled together with the alumni, because it was going to hurt the economy," said Starbuck.

Pretty soon, those pictures Lambert was taking began to tell a different story.

"We were quite resolute that this was not going down the way that the story was being played out," said Lambert.

Alumni fought the closure, raising more than 20 million dollars, and Amherst County Attorney Ellen Bowyer helped take the case to the Supreme Court of Virginia.

"They told folks they were going to be operating the college, that's what they were going to do with the money, but instead they were using the money to close the college. We said that's a violation of state law," said Bowyer.

"There were two rooms of overflow, and they've never had a crowd like that in the Virginia Supreme Court," said Lambert.

Lambert said it was only after alumni won the case that she began to think about the story her photos had documented.

"I had all these photos at the end, and i was going to make myself a book, why not make the book for everybody," said Lambert.

Now, that book is complete, but the story of Sweet Briar continues on.

Just this month, the school raised more than $500 thousand in one day.

Lambert said it gives her hope.

"I think there's a long road to go, and it's going to be difficult, but i have no doubt that we can do it," said Lambert.

Lambert's book is now on sale and you can get a copy on her website by clicking here.