The families of five University of Alabama students killed when a deadly twister ripped through Tuscaloosa in April were awarded posthumous diplomas at the school's graduation held this weekend, which had been postponed in the wake of the storm.
Darlene and David Harrison were present to accept the honor for their daughter, Ashley Therese Harrison, who died April 27, less then two weeks before her commencement ceremony was scheduled to take place.
At the conclusion of Saturday morning's graduation ceremony, which had been delayed for three months, Darlene Harrison told the Birmingham News, "It's amazing the love the university has shown. Receiving the diploma has helped heal the pain of losing Ashley. It removes the terrible trauma that we received from getting her death certificate. She worked for it."
University officials said 3300 students were expected to walk during the weekend commencement ceremonies, which were delayed by the school in the aftermath of the storm system that brought 62 tornadoes to Alabama killing 47 and injuring over 250 people, reports Associated Press.
Several hundred students and faculty joined relatives of the victims at a candlelight memorial service honoring the six students who had lost their lives in the storm on Friday night. Five of the students were graduating seniors, all six were to receive a diploma.
The mother of one University of Alabama graduate offered praise to the school for awarding posthumous degrees to relatives of the victims of the storm and said, "It was bittersweet, but the university handled it very well."