As her name was announced to receive her diploma, Jessica Ramirez wiped away tears, pointed up to the sky and was joined by three officers as she walked across the stage.
The officers came to the graduation ceremony in El Paso on Saturday to show support for Ramirez, whose husband recently died in the line of duty.
“It melted my heart. I didn’t expect it,” Ramirez told CNN affiliate KFOX. “I didn’t know they were going to do that, and I felt him, and I know he’s proud.”
Ramirez’ husband, Kendall County Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Ramirez, died on July 2 after being struck by a vehicle while conducting a traffic stop. Carlos, 32, was an Army veteran and served as a deputy for the past three years. He was buried at Ft. Bliss National Cemetery with military honors.
“He had his dream job, both military and with the Sheriff’s Office, and he smiled all the time, never stopped,” Ramirez said. Along with his wife, he leaves behind two young children.
Eleven days after burying her husband, Ramirez was set to walk across the stage to receive her bachelor’s degree from Park University.
“Because her husband had recently passed away, she wasn’t sure if she could do it,” her brother, Ernie Diaz, told KFOX. “Ultimately, she decided she could do it and she wanted to do it for him.”
At the ceremony, she paid tribute to her late husband by decorating her graduation cap with his badge number.
“My husband set a good example, he’s my motivation,” she said. “He set a good example for my kids and for me to keep on and never give up.”
CNN’s Giovanna Van Leeuwen contributed to this report.