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Milligan graduation brings together uncle and niece after trauma

Milligan College graduate Jessica Lane holds up the graduation cap that her uncle, Phil Peek (left), signed: “Love you and so proud of you!”

MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. (May 13, 2015) — Like many students walking across the stage at Milligan College’s commencement ceremonies this past weekend, Jessica Lane had a smile on her face.

But it wasn’t just graduation that made her happy, it was also a message written inside her cap from someone special.

After suffering from complete organ failure in April 2011, Lane’s uncle, Phil Peek, was lucky to still be alive. Lane, of Knoxville, Tennessee, was at her high school senior prom when she heard the news about her uncle.

Throughout his five-week stay in ICU, Lane was always by his side.

“She would sit by my bed, hold my hand and rest her head on the rail of my bed and sleep,” said Peek. “Jessica was always said to be my twin because we share so many traits and are very close.”

Unfortunately, Peek missed Lane’s high school graduation because of his condition, but signed her graduation cap with two words that said it all: “Love you. –Uncle Phil.”

Physical therapy and occupational therapy were transformative, not just for Peek, but Lane as well. While tending to her uncle, she saw firsthand the miraculous medical recovery he made in therapy.

“A therapist helped him fulfill his dream to walk and be independent again,” said Lane, who is now inspired to study occupational therapy in graduate school and help others make the kind of recovery her uncle made.

While Peek’s experience challenged her faith, she worked through it. “It definitely made me grow as a Christian,” said Lane.

Her growth as a Christian and as a scholar culminated on Saturday when she was awarded her Bachelor of Science degree in human performance and exercise science from Milligan—and another note in her cap signed by her uncle: “Love you and so proud of you!”

This time, her uncle was able to cheer her on from the audience.

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MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY is a Christian liberal arts university in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan University, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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