Hospitalized LeFlore High School student explains how she ‘walked’ across the stage at graduation

Mobile County

A robot crossed the stage at LeFlore’s graduation because a student was in the hospital and couldn’t make it. 

Graduation is a special time for high school seniors. They work hard to cross that stage with a diploma in hand.

“That day comes once in a lifetime,” said Cynthia Pettway, a LeFlore High School graduate. 

Some high school seniors are unable to make that important walk. 

“I couldn’t just sit down and lay in a bed and miss that because it only comes one time,” said Pettway. 

One week ago, Pettway was admitted to the hospital and was told she wouldn’t be able to leave the hospital for three weeks.

Unable to walk across the stage for her graduation from LeFlore, Cynthia lost hope. 

“She was like a robot, a robot! And I was like mama, that’s not going to work,” said Pettway. 

That’s when USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital and the Mobile County Public School System stepped in to help. They brought out their robot that utilizes two iPads to enable Pettway to be in another place, without ever leaving the hospital.

“You’re accessing it through the internet, so it doesn’t even matter where are, she can drive it from the hospital and we can take it wherever she needs to go,” said Stephanie Maddox, with Mobile County Public School System and USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital.  

Pettway and her family were able to stay inside the hospital while ten miles away, at the Mitchell Center, the robot “walked” across the stage for her.

Graduation was important for Pettway, she worked hard for her diploma, going to night classes.

“I’m my grandma’s first grandbaby, her first one to only go and get to walk that stage, so I had to walk that stage, and I rolled across that stage,” said Pettway. 

Nearly 40 members of her family joined her in the hospital to watch the live stream of her school’s graduation. 

“It was different, but it was a great experience to try something new. I cried,” said Pettway.

The hospital and school system say they wanted to help replace a bad memory with a good one.

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