KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. - A young Chester County woman who defied the odds reached graduation day. She’s been through so many hardships, including the recent loss of her mother. But, she persevered and Friday night, she walked across the stage.
18-year-old Jamera Whitney Williams crosses the stage outside her school Kennett High to get her diploma during graduation. It is a bittersweet moment for Jamera.
"I would say I was overwhelmed just because my mom wasn't here for me, but they surprised me with a picture of her so I'm just overexcited," said Jamera. Her family was there to cheer her on, but her heartbeat was missing.
Her mother Tylanda died March 17th after a battle with aggressive colon cancer that had metastasized to many parts of her body. Jamera breaks down in tears.
"You earned it. You earned it," said her mother Pamela Williams, who was by her side. Williams is also devastated that her wife was not with them to share this moment.
"Her mother was her dearest best friend," Williams said of Jamera and Tylanda. "The journey has been long. Some places it was hard and Jamera persevered," said Williams.
The loss of Tylanda follows other challenges and trauma Jamera struggled and pushed through to get to the stage Friday.
"In middle school, she was aggressively bullied and assaulted inside the school building at a charter school in Philadelphia County and because she thought there was no other way to handle it, she tried to commit suicide and went breathless in my arms," said Williams. The family hopes her triumph serves as an inspiration for other young people facing life challenges.
"The only way we can overcome these atrocities that are happening within our young people is that our young people know that there's someone who will listen, who will care and who will help them," said Williams.
Jamera displayed a tattoo she has in honor and memory of her mom Tylanda and shares what she hopes she is feeling watching her from heaven.
"Happy and excited for me," Jamera said. Jamera also credits her teacher, Ms. Greener, for her caring support during the time she was out of school to be with her mom during hospice care through to her passing. Greener made sure she had what she needed to graduate.
Jamera will be attending college at Widener University.