Mary Pamplin, seated, and her sister Quilla Pamplin cheer on Hillside High School graduates as Mary’s granddaughter Ayaena, 5, snoozes during ceremonies at Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium on June 7.

Mary’s son Kaaylon, 17, was shot to death Oct. 6, 2012. Officers found him sitting in a car on Burlington Avenue near Nebo Street with a gunshot wound to the head. Jamaal Daquan Lowery, 19, was arrested and charged with murder in connection to Kaaylon’s death. His mother received his diploma posthumously during the graduation ceremony.

According to police department statistics, 19 of 21 homicides in the City of Durham in 2012 were committed with a firearm; three victims were teenagers.