Des Moines Woman Killed in Chicago Bus Crash Receives Posthumous Degree

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A Des Moines woman who died just days after Christmas last year was just one semester away from graduating from the University of Iowa. She was honored Wednesday and received a degree posthumously.

Nicole Underwood was Chicago-bound on a coach bus to see her boyfriend when the bus driver lost control and crashed. She was the only passenger on board who died in the crash.

nicole underwoodComforted by her fiancé, Nicole’s mother, Kassie Underwood, said Wednesday was bittersweet.

“She is well-deserving to be honored. She worked so hard for her grades,” Underwood said. “I just reached out and said she was so close to graduating and her degree meant everything to her. You know, was there something that could be done.”

The university’s president called Underwood, saying her daughter exemplified what the University of Iowa is all about.

“I will never forget that phone call because it just, it made my day to know that they would be willing to do that for her,” Underwood said.

At Wednesday night’s graduation ceremony for the School of Social Work, those who attended were reminded that life is short and not to be taken for granted.

“She had talked to another therapist that did a lot of grief counseling and she became interested in wanting to be a social worker in the hospital setting, working with families of patients on life support. That was what she was working toward. That’s what she wanted to do,” Nicole’s mother said.

Administrators at the University of Iowa say Nicole was an ambassador for the program she was a part of and a model student. Her mother wants Nicole to be remembered for the generous person she was.

Nicole's family accepting her degree.

Nicole's family accepting her degree.

 

“Nicole would do anything for anybody. She was a giver. I want people to remember her for everything she wanted to do for others. I want them to know her as a caring and loving person,” Underwood said.

The Underwood family is currently raising money to set up a scholarship in Nicole’s name. You can donate to the Nicole Underwood Scholarship via GoFundMe.