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Patient Graduation

Graduation is a proud moment in any student’s life. It’s meant to be filled with inspiring speeches, proud parents and diplomas. Chipman Jr. High student Destiny Perez would have missed celebrating her big moment if not for the kindness of a caring staff member at Dignity Health Memorial Hospital.

Grace Wilhelm is a Child Life Specialist at Memorial Hospital. Wilhelm is there to calm and comfort children and their families during their hospital stay. She helps young patients understand and cope with medical experiences and prepares them for procedures.

“I love to help our patients and their families get through these tough times and make their hospital stay a more positive experience,” said Wilhelm.

Recently, she did just that by helping Destiny celebrate her eighth-grade graduation. Destiny missed her graduation ceremony from Chipman Jr. High due to surgery.

“Her mom mentioned that she was missing her graduation. She even had perfect attendance, that’s a big accomplishment that needs to be recognized,” said Wilhelm.

Wilhelm contacted Destiny’s school and with a little planning she arranged for a graduation ceremony to take place at Memorial Hospital’s healing garden; complete with cap and gown, family, friends and faculty.

“Grace was so sweet. She really wanted Destiny to feel special and be recognized,” said Maria Perez, Destiny’s Mother. “Destiny had no idea what to expect. When she saw all of the people who showed up to be there for her she was so touched. We were both a bit emotional.”

“It made me feel so special,” said Destiny. “I was so happy I got to see some of my teachers one last time before I moved on to high school.”

A small gesture that made a big impact on everyone involved.

“It made me really proud to be at our hospital. I was so happy to help in a small way. It was very gratifying to see it all come together so we could honor Destiny,” said Wilhelm.

“I just want to thank Grace for everything she did. It made a big impact on Destiny.”

Now that Destiny has graduated eighth grade, she will attend Highland High.

Learn more about the Lauren Small Children's Center

Lauren's Story

The Lauren Small Children's center is named after Lauren Paige Small, a Bakersfield girl who inspired the community through her brave two-year battle with cancer.


Read Lauren's story