KENT, Ohio - When most graduates walked across the stage at Kent State University, you could hear a pin drop inside the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center on Saturday, May 11, 2013. Each one graciously accepted their diploma and walked down the ramp back to their seat.
But when Joseph John Marino's name was called, the crowd went wild, erupted in applause, cheered, whistled and came to their feet. J.J. Marino received a standing ovation from the thousands who attended the 2013 commencement ceremony in Kent, Ohio.
Marino was there in spirit.
Tragically, the 23-year-old Parma native was killed in a car crash on his way home from Spring Break a few weeks before graduation.
Kent State University administrators chose to honor the senior accounting major with a posthumous Bachelor's degree in business administration.
Marino's parents, Kevin and Sandi Marino, proudly accepted the diploma on J.J.'s behalf. After Sandi grasped her beloved son's diploma, Kevin took a moment to hold up a framed 8x10 photo of J.J. to the crowd. The entire Marino family watched the emotional moment from the front row. It was an unforgettable moment in honor of an unforgettable individual.
"We are so proud of our son J.J. and incredibly grateful to President Lester Lefton, Dean Liz Sinclair and the entire community of Kent State for their support, prayers and remembering J.J. with this tremendous honor," said Kevin Marino.
You can watch the commencement below from YouTube: