ATLANTA — For graduates, getting your diploma is a special moment marked by years of hard work and studying. But for Brooke Taylor, the chance to walk in her cap and gown comes with extra special meaning after a particularly hard year.
"It was a lot of hospital visits. I wasn't really in school," Taylor, who lives in Calhoun, Georgia, said. "I was online for all of it."
Diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer last November, Taylor spent most of her last months at Southeast Whitfield High School juggling treatments at the AFLAC Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
Yet, despite all she was dealing with physically, she remained committed to the task before her: finishing graduation on time.
Taylor said her support system of family and friends as well as her basketball coach and hospital teacher, Ms. Caroline, helped keep her motivated throughout the process.
Taylor was able to graduate with honors but still unable to attend her school's ceremony. So her supporters crafted a surprise, holding a graduation ceremony at Children's complete with her diploma.
"I can say I graduated," Taylor said. "After everything I've been through, I can finally say, I did it."
With high school now behind her, Taylor looks to the next chapter with plans to attend college and pursue teaching. She hopes to give back to others the way her teachers helped her over the course of the past year.
"I want to be able to get to know my students as my coach and Ms. Caroline, how they got to know me," she said. "They taught me stuff I'll always be grateful for."