Classmates cheer as woman accepts diploma on behalf of sister taken after cancer battle

Adriana Rodriguez would have graduated with Lee HS senior class Saturday.

SAN ANTONIO – There was a special moment for the graduating class of Robert E. Lee High School Saturday.

The students let out a thunderous cheer as Elizabeth Leos walked on stage and received a diploma on her sister Adriana Rodriguez's behalf.

"I took in the moment, it happened so fast and I even think I waved,” said Leos. “I don't quite remember but I remember the crowd and I remember seeing so many people."

In April 2015, Rodriguez was diagnosed with Lymphoma when her lung collapsed unexpectedly. Nine days later she was diagnosed with Leukemia. Rodriguez died a few months later and was laid to rest in September of 2015.

Leos had a promise though, she told Rodriguez she would attend graduation and pick up her diploma.

"I know she's proud that we are all here for her today and we're proud," Leos said. 

Rodriguez was an active student and three-year member of the cheer squad. Leos said her sister loved her school and classmates. As graduation approached, Leos said she expected to hear from school officials.

"I was in assumption that we would be receiving a call from Robert E. Lee High School asking formally (to be) present at Adriana's graduation and we had received a phone call and time was coming short so we then contacted Robert E. Lee. High School," Leos said.

The school responded with this. 

"Unfortunately, I'm very sorry,” said a school counselor. She (the principal) states that the school district does not do that. We don't distribute honorary diplomas basically."

The KSAT Defenders called the school district and within a day that changed. An Northeast Independent School District spokesman said it was a mistake.  

By Saturday’s graduation ceremony, it was an afterthought. Leos said today was about celebrating Adriana's life and accomplishments.

"It was perfect. It was the perfect occasion. The perfect day to receive her diploma her accomplishments," she said.