ROCK HILL Winthrop University graduates took turns forming a line of black gowns, scanning the stage nearby to see if there was anything they might trip on.
Joshua Hurst a tall, young man in a suit stood out as he waited among the sea of black mortarboards.
Every parent, grandparent and friend at the Winthrop Coliseum applauded for their graduate on Saturday many let out a celebratory whoop or holler.
When the name of one senior Anna Marie Hurst was read aloud, it was like she was everyones child or classmate.
Joshua Hurst took a deep breath before he crossed the stage to receive his sisters diploma.
The parents in the audience who came to watch their childs milestone stood up and clapped and many cried for Anna honoring the Hurst family who attended but didnt get the chance to watch their 21-year-old daughter cross the stage. The student behind Joshua Hurst crossed the stage next, wiping a tear from the corner of her eye as she managed a smile for the waiting photographer off stage.
Anna Hurst died Friday one day before Winthrops commencement. She was at her familys home in Rock Hill.
She would have been among the 36 other students who received a degree from Winthrops College of Education. One of our own as one graduation speaker put it Annas name was one of about 300 seniors who earned a college degree on Saturday.
Friends from her sorority Alpha Delta Pi remember Anna as such an amazing person on the inside and out.
Many in the community remember her as someone with "special way with children, as a worker at the Carolina Kids Child Development Center. She and her brother Joshua were graduates of Northwestern High School in Rock Hill. Anna was a cheerleader at Northwestern. The night before Anna died, she was with her family helping decorate their Christmas tree.
"She went to bed very happy and died during the night from an unknown cause, Winthrops Frank Ardaiolo, vice president of student life, said in an e-mail to the campus.
Before observing a moment of silence at the ceremony, faculty member Elke Schneider told the audience, The Winthrop University family grieves with the Hurst family.