DeEbony Groves, 21, had dreams of walking across the stage and receiving her diploma in social work, which she had been working hard towards for several years. But on April 22, her life was cut short when a gunman entered the Waffle House where she was eating with friends.
On Saturday night, Belmont University in Nashville paid tribute to Groves before her mother, Shirl Baker, walked across the stage to accept her daughter’s diploma on her behalf.
“Almost two weeks ago, our community suffered an unimaginable loss,” said Robert Fisher, President of Belmont University. “While our hearts were broken, today we have the chance to celebrate DeEbony’s life together.”
Baker wasn’t alone on the graduation stage. Her son, Di’Angelo, also was awarded his diploma on Saturday, a moment he was supposed to share with his sister. As Di’Angelo wiped tears from his eyes his mother consoled him. Both received standing ovations from the crowd.
Belmont University announced that it has renamed a social work scholarship in DeEbony’s honor so that “her legacy will live on” through the scholarship which will “provide financial support and encouragement to generations of social work majors at Belmont University.”
Groves died alongside her friend, Akilah DaSilva, while singing gospel songs, according to survivors of the shooting. The shooting took the lives of four people, all under 30 years old.
CNN’s Nicole Williams contributed to this report.