Oakland teen robbed of gifts on her high school graduation night

On the same night that Oakland teen Surijhyah Farr graduated from high school, someone stole all her presents.

But a nonprofit stepped in to help her recover some of what she lost.

The 17-year-old said what was stolen from her was more than just material items and money, but that community support is helping her move forward. 
"It's my escape from the world and I get to express myself," she said on Tuesday evening, while she drew on her digital tablet. 

She loves to draw and said it helps her forget that she was recently the victim of a crime.

"It makes me feel more at peace," she said "It helps me forget about the situation a little bit." 

 She graduated from Envision Academy in Oakland last week with a 3.8 GPA. 

She received a money lei, gift cards, and other presents.  

That evening, Surijhyah and her family went to a restaurant in uptown Oakland to celebrate.

When she left the restaurant to go to her godmother's car parked on Broadway, her heart sank.

"As we walked up, all we saw was the glass," Surijhyah said.

There was broken glass all over the street from someone breaking into the car, popping open the trunk, and taking Surijhyah's graduation cap and all her graduation presents, including the money lei.

"It wasn't really about the gifts. It was about the fact that all these people gave me their money. They gave me their time and gifts, and they all got taken.  I was just really hurt by that," 
said Surijhyah.  

The head of a nonprofit heard about what happened. 

"I got very angry," said Donald Lacy, founder of LoveLife Foundation.  "This should have been the happiest night of her life and whenever she thinks about her graduation, she'll have this scar, this memory," 

He started the nonprofit in memory of his 16-year-old daughter who was shot and killed in 1997.

He had attended Surijhyah's graduation and described her as a "bright star" who  participated in many of his foundation's college prep programs.

Lacy is now raising money to help the teen.

"I'm hoping that the person or persons who perpetrated this crime sees this and knows that we as a community are standing together for our young people," Lacy said. 

Meanwhile, Surijhyah received an email from the Oakland Police Department on Tuesday that she passed the interviews and testing for the a position as a police cadet.  

She also plans to attend college.

"What I've learned is that honestly, no matter what the bad situation is, I'll have support," Surijhyah said things are definitely looking up.    

With the help of donations and a part-time job as a police cadet, she said she'll be able to pay for expenses when she starts Laney College in the fall.

Anyone who wishes to donate: go to www.LoveLifefoundation.org and put Surijhyah Farr's name with the donation.  

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at Amber.Lee@Fox.com or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU.