It was an emotional day for the family of Clark Atlanta University graduate student Simone Watson. She recently passed away from complications due to lupus. At Monday's graduation ceremony, her mother Cassandra and sister Tiffany accepted her degree.
Her family accepted Simone's bachelor's and master's degrees, which she earned during a five-year accounting program. Simone maintained a 4.0 GPA in her graduate studies. She was also CAU salutatorian.
Simone Watson passed away a few weeks ago shortly after she completed her finals. She was 22.
Both her mother and sister were still in shock from the death when they accepted the degrees.
"I was like very emotional. It was very hard for me to keep from breaking down and crying. But at the same time very, very, proud of her. Very excited and very proud. This was a day she really worked hard for," said Simone's mother Cassandra.
Simone's sister, Tiffany, said she was proud to be present at the graduation. She said it was hard.
"This is all that she wanted…was to graduate," said Tiffany Watson.
Simone's family said her illness never slowed down her studies or her desire to help other students understand math.
"She was full of love. She loved helping people," said Cassandra Watson.
Professors said that through five years time, they watched a bright, motivated young woman blossom:
"I was very proud of her and I knew she would have made quite an impression wherever she would have been," said Dr. Rajul Gokum.
Through the sorrow , pride and love surfaced during the bittersweet ceremony.
"I'm happy, I'm honored, but it's hard," said Tiffany Watson.
Simone had planned to get her PhD in accounting, a subject she would then teach.
More than 760 CAU graduates received their degrees during the Monday morning ceremony.
205 N. Michigan Avenue Ground Floor Chicago, IL 60601 Station Operator: (312) 565-5532 Newsroom: (312)565-5533