Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – Graduates at Onondaga Community College will receive their diplomas this weekend. For one of the top graduates at Saturday’s ceremony, it’s a moment that almost never happened.
OCC music major Sheralyn Wellman was swimming with four others in Lake Ontario six years ago when they were hit by an eight foot wave.
“It was one of those things that you kind of don't believe it can happen to you. During that whole experience it felt very unreal, I felt like it was kind of like an out of body experience,” she told NewsChannel 9.
Wellman and three friends were rescued by men on jet skis. Anna Wright was pulled under and never came up. Dive crews found her two days later.
Wellman says the strength shown by Wright's family helped her get through this traumatic part of her life. It's an experience she says she hasn't forgotten and one that's helped shape her life.
“I have grown a lot as a person. Knowing I was saved from a death makes me realize that I have a purpose here and I'm hoping to accomplish that, definitely,” she said.
But, Wellman will not only be getting her degree on Saturday, she'll also be taking the stage to sing the national anthem and the school's alma mater.
“I love the stage,” Wellman said. “I'll never be nervous; I love it too much to ever be afraid of it. I appreciate it and I'm looking forward to it."
She says she's planning to take a year off, but is hoping to attend a music school in Boston.
Wellman is one of six Onondaga students who received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence.