By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter —
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma City resident Jazmin Medina graduated from Putnam City West High School in Oklahoma City on Saturday, May 22. However, while undergoing leukemia treatments, she was unable to attend the ceremony and walk with her classmates that day.
To help resolve this situation, the Child Life Team at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital OU Health stepped in to find a way to make the event memorable for Jazmin, her family and friends.
The Child Life team provided a robot that ‘walked’ to represent Jazmin. The robot crossed the stage during the ceremony held at the Putnam City West High School stadium in Oklahoma City.
During the event, the robot was guided by Jazmin remotely as she watched on her phone and a large video screen. Jazmin and her family and friends were together to watch from a special area of the Children’s Hospital.
OU Health Media Team representatives were on site at the hospital filming Jazmin and her family watching the event. The team also conducted interviews with the graduate, her family and the Children’s Hospital staff.
A marketing representative was on site to capture photos and video of the 4’8” robot that was designed and manufactured at OhmniLabs in Silicon Valley, California.
“Today, glory to God, because he made a way for me to feel a part of the graduation, even though I wasn’t able to be there in person,” Jazmin said. “But I was there…and it was in a pretty cool way.
“In October, I got diagnosed with leukemia,” she added. “At first, he [the doctor] called me and said I had leukemia, and I had no clue what that was. And then he told me it was cancer,” she continued.
“So, the journey began. There are days I forgot I even had cancer.”
Jazmin says her newly found relationship with God made dealing with the illness easier. “He gave me a lot of strength to get through it,” she said.
The robot waited patiently alongside the other graduating students on the field before going on stage during roll call. Video shows the robot being placed on the ramp leading to the stage, and waiting in line to receive Jazmin’s diploma.
“I was there graduating,” Jazmin stated. “I was able to get that diploma, I was able to see everything going on.”
Jazmin’s mother Amy said she was angry at God about the diagnosis at first. “I didn’t want to see her like this,” she said. As time went by her anger eased. She said they were treated like family at OU Children’s Hospital.
Sheri Guthery, a Child Life Specialist said, “Jazmin is one of our patients at the Jimmy Everest Center. We wanted to make it possible for her to attend her graduation, despite her treatment. We coordinated with our tech specialists and we brought in a robot to walk across the stage for her.
“Opportunities for kids and teens like this help patients to feel normal and to engage in things that their peers are doing make hospital stays so much easier for them. Jazmin is a super laid back teen – she’s awesome,” Guthery said.
“After we talked to her about the idea Jazmin said, ‘How did I not know about this robot before.’ “I’d say she was pretty in from the beginning,” she added.
Guthery then approached Misty Jordan, a Gaming & Digital Technology Specialist at Children’s Hospital, to see if she could help include Jazmin in the graduation event virtually.
“This was a perfect opportunity for us to have her there with our robots,” Jordan said.
“The experience for Jazmin was like being on a Facetime call, “Jordan said. “She was on the phone with the robot – the one controlling the robot – completely walking it – and I was there to be sure it stayed on course on the stage to get her that diploma and help her celebrate this milestone,” Jordan added.
Although this is not new technology, Jordan said she’s never heard of a robot being used in a graduate ceremony in Oklahoma. “I’m very excited for us to have provided this type of support for Jazmin,” Jordan said.
Donna Lewis, School Programs Coordinator at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital said, “We have a wonderful partnership with Putnam City Schools, they go out of their way to see that our students are still involved and taken care of while they’re receiving treatment.
“They were on board and we’ve made it work with them,” Lewis said. “We’re all very excited to be able to give Jazmin that part of her senior experience.”
For more information, visit ouhealth.com/oklahoma-childrens-hospital or call 405-271-4700.
To watch a video of the robot standing in for Jazmin and receiving her diploma during the Putnam City West 2021 High School graduation ceremony, click here.