Delaware State University student awarded degree posthumously

On May 7, Simone Byrd received congratulations for her late daughter D’ymond’s graduation from Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Delaware State University President Dr. Harry Williams. (Submitted photo/Byrd family)

On May 7, Simone Byrd received congratulations for her late daughter D’ymond’s graduation from Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Delaware State University President Dr. Harry Williams. (Submitted photo/Byrd family)

DOVER — Simone Byrd won’t forget the most glorious sunshine she’d ever seen.

While walking across the stage to accept a diploma for her late daughter on May 7, brightness momentarily emerged from the clouds.

During that brief time, D’ymond Dantzler was recognized for earning a mass communication degree with cum laude honors posthumously from Delaware State University.

Somewhere up in the heavens, D’ymond was smiling proudly.

“It was cloudy for the entire ceremony except for those few moments when the sun came out,” Ms. Byrd said.

“It absolutely was a sign that D’ymond was there and she wanted her spirit to shine bright and she also wanted to let everyone know I’m here and I did it,”

Mixed emotions surfaced due to her daughter’s death in an automobile accident on May 11, 2015.

“It was a wonderful moment, one that D’ymond had worked for her entire life,” Ms. Byrd remembered of commencement.

“It was also bittersweet because she couldn’t accept it herself.”

Diploma in hand, Ms. Byrd received congratulations from DSU President Dr. Harry Williams and Vice President Joe Biden.

With a bubbly personality and leadership skills, D’ymond Dantzler’s mother believes she had a future in politics.

With a bubbly personality and leadership skills, D’ymond Dantzler’s mother believes she had a future in politics.

Describing Mr. Biden’s genuine warmth and understanding, “I was surprised how much time he wanted to spend with me.”

Indeed, Mr. Biden could relate to tragic loss, considering his wife and daughter were killed in a 1972 automobile accident; also, son Beau died of cancer the same month Ms. Byrd lost her daughter.

“Mr. Biden just wanted me to know how very proud he was that I was able to accept her degree on her behalf,” Ms. Byrd recalled. “He expressed how he knew it was very difficult task for me and that it took a lot of strength on my behalf.

“As he embraced me it wasn’t as if I was hugging the VP, but another parent that knew how it felt to lose a child.”

Great things ahead

With D’ymond’s death, society was deprived of a high achieving college graduate bound for great things in life. Her mother believed her only child could have a career in politics, and noted her time as a United States Congressional page in the House of Representatives in 2011.

“D’ymond was bubbly and always smiling,” Ms. Byrd said. “She had a personality that would light up anyone and make you feel she’d known you forever. She was a leader and just so sociable.

“I saw her getting into politics because she was going to get into something where she could be a leader.”

In memoriam, Ms. Dantzler was named DSU’s women’s senate president, and the current step master of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Just prior to her passing, the Randallstown, Md. native was inducted into Sigma Alpha Pi with Presidential Status, the National Society of Leadership and Success for earning a 3.6 grade-point average or higher.

Protecting women’s rights

The late D’ymond Dantzler graduated from Delaware State University with cum laude distinction.

The late D’ymond Dantzler graduated from Delaware State University with cum laude distinction.

With a minor from DSU in women’s gender studies, D’ymond first planned to start a nonprofit foundation focused on “essentially protecting women’s rights, promoting the arts, offering education, empowerment and provide a positive self image,” according to her mother.

A tragedy of the worst kind arose, but Ms. Byrd was determined to keep her daughter’s vision alive. She established the D’ymond Shant’yl Dantzler Legacy Foundation, describing the mission as “(assisting) with the cultivation of our community through an emphasis on moral development, education, the presence and importance of the arts, with the dedication to promoting and protecting women’s rights primarily in the African American community.”

The foundation’s aim is to “assist with the enhancement of finer womanhood through a concentration on promoting the development of young women through providing scholarship opportunities for college, assistance with residential services, mentoring, workshops, and the provision of counseling, in addition to an exposure to the arts via dance, visual arts and music workshops and classes, all of which D’ymond dedicated her life and energy to foreseeing into fruition.”

Her Randallstown High School Mass Communication Program developed a D’ymond Dantzler Leadership Award that will be given out annually.

To contact the foundation, e-mail dsdlegacyfoundation@gmail.com or call (410) 905-5427.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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