Aurora theater shooting victim Jessica Ghawi awarded posthumous degree

DENVER - 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.

"When she was killed, we were very upset that she did not get to live many of her dreams, and this was certainly one of them," said Sandy Phillips, Jessica's mother.

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.