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She couldn’t be there to accept her high school diploma. So her parents walked in her place

During her senior year, Olivia-Grace Corpuz-Hernandez worked especially hard to earn her diploma. But she couldn’t be there on that special day.
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 5:09 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Farrington High School honored more than 500 seniors at its May commencement ceremony at the Stan Sheriff Center. It was the first graduation Farrington parents saw in person since the pandemic.

“There are milestones in life for kids,” Farrington Principal Al Carganilla said. “Usually, it’s their driver’s license and their high school diploma.”

During her senior year, Olivia-Grace Corpuz-Hernandez worked especially hard to earn her diploma. But she couldn’t be there on that special day.

“She had that undying determination to get that diploma,” teacher Eric Tokunaga said. “She obviously knew her situation and she just went on and got it.”

Olivia’s situation involved an ongoing battle against leukemia. Two days before Christmas, the 17-year-old passed away.

But before she died, she completed every course in Farrington’s rigorous Health Academy.

“She had to put in a lot of effort during her time of struggle and during her time of illness,” Carganilla said. “More kudos to her that she was able to do that during the most difficult time of her life.”

Tokunaga said Olivia never used her illness as an excuse to miss assignments or slow down on her studies.

“You would never know her situation by talking to her or communicating with her,” he said. “I don’t think she wanted anybody to feel sorry for her.”

So on graduation day, Farrington carved out a special moment for Olivia’s diploma presentation.

When the roll call reached her name, the announcer said, “In honor of the late Olivia Hernandez, accepting her diploma are her parents Glen and Ashley Hernandez.”

They wiped away tears as they held the certificate their daughter earned.

Olivia’s family declined to be interviewed for this story but her parents wanted it told through the school’s perspective as an acknowledgment of their daughter’s perseverance.

For them, the graduation ceremony was a bittersweet moment.

“They felt going in line with the rest of the kids was something that they could do for their daughter,” Carganilla said.

Olivia loved to draw and to spend her time with her family and friends.

She did all she could to be included in the graduating Class of 2022. Even cancer couldn’t stop her.

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