Mother accepts deceased son’s college diploma

(Provided Photo/Michael Schrader)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It was a Mother’s Day weekend that would be like none other for an Indianapolis woman who spent the holiday without her son for the first time in 24 years.

Tracy Dickerson has spent the past six months mourning the sudden death of her son, Dexter Massey, but she would spend Saturday celebrating his accomplishment of graduating college.

Massey was a fifth-year senior at Marian University when he died in his sleep of natural causes in November 2013. He had fulfilled his graduation requirements as a history major by the time of his death.

(WISH Photo/Drew Blair)
(WISH Photo/Drew Blair)

Dressed in what would have been her son’s cap and gown, Dickerson accepted her son’s diploma during the university’s commencement ceremony Saturday morning.

“It’s the happiest that you could ever have with a sad overtone because he’s not here but I know he’s here,” Dickerson said. “My son worked so hard for this day.”

In the school’s announcement of Massey’s death, the dean of students Ruth Rogers wrote of the student and football player’s impact on the university community.

“The loss of such a promising student and athlete deeply saddens and affects us all. He will be greatly missed by his coaches, professors and many friends,” Rogers said.

Dickerson received a standing ovation and applause when accepting the posthumously awarded diploma. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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