iPad dressed in cap and gown stands in for hospitalized girl at graduation


(CBS News) — An Alabama girl just graduated high school in an unexpected way — via an iPad dressed in a cap and gown.

Cynthia Pettway stood with her classmates through a remote video connection at the Leflore High School graduation this week. Experiencing the culmination of her high school years was something she didn’t think she would be able to do after being hospitalized one week before the ceremony. But the staff at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital had the brilliant idea to take Pettway across the graduation stage virtually.

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The hospital has a robot that utilizes iPads to to transport patients wherever they want to go.

“You’re accessing it through the internet, so it doesn’t even matter where you are. She can drive it from the hospital and we can take it wherever she needs to go,” said Stephani Maddox, who works for the Mobile County Public School System, which coordinated with the hospital to make Pettway’s graduation walk happen.

Hospital staff taught Pettway how to use the device so she could roll herself across the stage. She was glad she had a way to celebrate her hard work in high school and make her family proud.

“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,” Pettway told CBS affiliate WKRG.

Receiving her high school diploma in such a special way brought tears to Pettway’s eyes. She was seen on the iPad screen wiping her eyes with a tissue as the robot crossed the stage.

Congratulations are in order, not only for her diploma, but also for her ability to roll with the punches.