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A December 2018 commencement ceremony at Columbia College's Southwell gymnasium (file photo courtesy of Columbia College's Sam Fleury)

Columbia College to present degree posthumously to former student and Marine Killed in Afghanistan

Former Columbia College online student Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo was one of 13 Marines killed by a suicide bomb in August in Afghanistan (undated photo courtesy of Columbia College)

Columbia College says a former online student and Marine Sergeant killed in August by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan will receive her degree posthumously Saturday morning at Southwell gymnasium.

Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo’s family will be at tomorrow’s 11 am ceremony at Southwell gymnasium in Columbia. Columbia College is planning a special presentation.

Pichardo wrote an essay about why she went to college, noting she grew up in poverty in a single-parent household. Her mother raised four children, including two with disabilities. Her mother stressed the importance of going to college and earning a degree. Pichardo joined the military to take advantage of the education benefits.

Pichardo wanted to make her mother proud. She also dealt with heartbreak during her life, including the death of a loved one. Pichardo said that heartbreak teaches us how to be understanding and empathetic.

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