TAMPA (WFLA) – A special diploma presentation at the Plant High School graduation Tuesday afternoon honored a student who died after a car accident last year.
After planning to graduate early, 16-year-old Carlos Medina had aspirations of going to college, becoming a pilot, and purchasing a house for his mom.
“I love you momma, every morning and kissing me on my forehead, this is what I miss him mostly,” Carlos’ mother Odeime Medina told 8 On Your Side.
The last time Carlos told his mom he loved her was over the phone shortly before passing away from the car crash on Jan. 20, 2020, on Davis Islands near Peter O. Knight Airport.
“What I told everybody is enjoy your kids, say you love them because you never know when its the last day you see them,” Odeime said.
Mrs. Medina now has to make room on a wall in her home for the special diploma she received.
“The school doing this is too much, I’m so grateful for them doing this,” she said.
During the graduation ceremony, senior class president Matthew Maney remembered Medina for excelling in the swimming pool and in the classroom.
“A young man that brightened up any room he walked into with his wonderful sense of humor, who showcased his excellence in all of his swimming endeavors and became the best AP chem lab partner I could ask for,” Maney said. “I hope we remember Carlos in whatever we do and that we can keep his memory alive.”
It was a meaningful day for all of the seniors who have endured finishing high school during the pandemic.
But the ceremony began with Carlos’ mom accepting her son’s diploma – a moment she will never forget.
“Oh my god, I feel like he’s walking next to me,” she said. “This is what I feel and when I look up and I know he’s jumping and dancing and saying ‘I did it, momma.”