'Sydney's Kids' graduate from college - WNEM TV 5

'Sydney's Kids' graduate from college

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In 1999, a Grand Canyon University alum was shot to death in a senseless killing.

Years later, several students are proud GCU graduates thanks to scholarships set up in the alum's honor.

"I love it. It's a blessing. It's a huge accomplishment," graduate Jessica Reyes said.

Reyes is on the road to success after graduating from GCU.

"It felt unbelievable at first. I'm like, am I really done? Did I just get my bachelor's?" joked Reyes.

Reyes is one of "Sydney's Kids."

Fifteen years ago, a GCU alumna Sydney Browning was one of seven people murdered when a man opened fire in a Texas church. Browning was in seminary school.

Back home in Phoenix, the GCU president was determined to see some good come out of the tragedy. He offered full scholarships to 62 second-graders at a low-income school who visited GCU the day before.

This year, four of those students graduated. Sydney Browning's father is elated.

"Oh we're just overjoyed. We're just so pleased. My wife and I went down to Grand Canyon and talked with them, met with them. They're just really achievers. I'm so impressed," Don Browning said.

Though nothing will bring back his daughter, he's proud her legacy will live on.

"We felt very honored and humbled and when the kids started their freshman year we were able to present them with their certificates," said Don Browning.

Reyes graduated a year early with a degree in biology and plans to become a doctor. She is forever grateful to GCU and Sydney Browning, a woman she never met.

"It's a huge blessing. I'm honored to be given this. It's helped so much," Reyes said.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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