SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Over the weekend, Savannah State University held their first virtual graduation, graduating over 480 students and 11 student-athletes.
LeAnne Tatum received a Mother’s Day gift from her late daughter, Karissa: her degree from Savannah State University.
“It means so much, because it meant so much to her," LeAnne said. "She worked hard to manage everything on her own.”
Karissa Tatum was a 21-year-old Tigers volleyball player. She died on September 4, 2019 from injuries she got in a car accident while she was evacuating campus for Hurricane Dorian on Sept. 1.
Tatum wanted to be a journalist and was a Mass Communications student, a junior when she passed away. She earned her Associate of Arts degree. Her parents came to Savannah themselves to get the degree, a place they said was Karissa truly loved.
"To walk where she walked, to visit campus was very special,” LeAnne said.
Karissa’s dad, Jerry agreed.
“We just felt like being down there this weekend was exactly where we needed to be.”
“It was a special weekend. I felt her presence the entire weekend," LeAnne added.
They want their daughter to be remembered as the girl with the big heart, who worked hard, and was willing to stand up for what was right.
“She was feisty, she was fearless, and she was such a caring person. I’ve always said she was our crusader," LeAnne said.
Karissa lived out her dreams at Savannah State, and her parents said it will always hold a special place in their hearts.
“She will forever be missed and remembered, and once a Tiger, always a Tiger,” LeAnne added.
Savannah State has started a Karissa Tatum Scholarship for Mass Com students.