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More than 11,000 students expected to graduate from SDSU this weekend

Posted at 10:22 PM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-11 01:22:39-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — More than 11,000 San Diego State University students will graduate this weekend. Vanessa Lytle is one of the many graduates.

Lytle’s face lights up when she talks about her Mom. She said her Mom has become the driving force in her life.

At just 19 years old, Lytle said she remembers when her Mom was diagnosed with cancer; it was the moment her life changed forever.

“When she first got sick, she wasn't really letting us know what was going on. She was protecting us," Lytle said.

Lytle had to pause college to figure out her Mom’s care.

“I put my head down and got through it," Lytle said.

Shortly after Lytle’s Mom lost her battle with cancer, unsure of what to do next, Lytle relied on other family members and friends for support.

She eventually landed at SDSU, where Lytle began studying business.

This is also where she learned about the “Courage through Cancer Scholarship,” which she was awarded this year.

Tammy Blackburn, an SDSU Alum who has now become a staff member, started the scholarship.

Blackburn was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017 and has been fighting this battle ever since. She said it is important for her to reach students with similar struggles.

“The goal is to be able to help students with tuition, housing, books, fees that they have," Blackburn said. "They have other expenses too when they're in cancer treatment or if their parents or loved one is dealing with cancer treatment.”

And while each student’s story is different, Blackburn says there’s so much emotion connected with Lytle’s story, knowing she will walk on the stage with a very important person missing in the audience.

“I wish her mom could be here to celebrate. There's nobody we want more to be there than our mom to celebrate," Blackburn said.

But Lytle says, deep inside, she knows she’s making her Mom proud.

"It just feels so good to finally do it," Lytle said. "I do wish my Mom was here, but she always told me to get my degree and finish school, and I did it.”