DENVER (CBS4/AP) – Metropolitan State University of Denver has bestowed an honorary bachelor of arts degree upon a student who was killed in the Aurora theater shooting.

Jessica Ghawi, who was among 12 people killed in the July 20 shooting that injured 58 others, was a junior majoring in speech communication with a focus on broadcast journalism.

Sandy Phillips accepted the degree on behalf of her 24-year-old daughter on Sunday, saying “we actually shed tears of joy instead of tears of sorrow.

“This was one of her dreams that she was so close to achieving and not fulfilled,” Phillips said, adding that if her daughter was alive to receive the honorary degree, she would have jokingly said, “Wow, I didn’t even have to study to get this.”

Ghawi’s degree was awarded during the university’s fall commencement.

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Ghawi was at a pivotal point in her life. She was a hard-working student who dreamed of a career in sports broadcasting.

“This was a dream of Jesse’s to graduate from college and she was in a hurry to do so,” Phillips said. “On another side, it’s very hard to see parents here with their child.”

While Ghawi’s memory will live on through scholarships and a sports equipment drive, her family shared with graduates words of wisdom from Ghawi’s blog.

“Even the times of solitude are a blessing, every second of every day is a gift.”

Sandy Phillips receiving the degree (credit: CBS)

Sandy Phillips receiving the degree (credit: CBS)

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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