Former Smith College student not eligible for posthumous degree

Courtney's grandfather donated $50,000 to start a scholarship to help students who overcome health challenges

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Courtney Carton died at the beginning of her last semester. Friends and family are fighting for Smith College to posthumously award a master’s degree in social work to 23-year-old Courtney Carton.

Rachel Rodriguez, a student at Smith College, told 22News, “We really feel like that represents the excellent social worker that she was. And we feel like she deserves to be recognized for that and all of her hard work and everything she was able to accomplish, while here.”

Courtney Carton died from complications of Type 1 diabetes in June, at the beginning of her last semester. Her friends and family said she was on track to graduate next Friday, and already had a job lined up.

Smith College said, “Courtney just doesn’t have enough credits.”

The Board of Trustees is responsible for awarding degrees.

In a statement to 22News, the Dean of the School of Social Work said she appreciated “the love and respect of those advocating for Courtney.”

However, Courtney had not met state requirements and since she had not completed her final semester, she’s ineligible.

Amee Catalano, a student at Smith College, told 22News, “Love the school to offer an honorary degree. Smith College offers honorary degrees all the time to well-known public figures, such as Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Kwan.”

The school said they would explore other ways to recognize and honor Courtney’s achievements.

Following Courtney’s passing, her grandfather donated $50,000 to start a scholarship for social work students who have overcome personal challenges, in addition to health ones.

Courtney would have turned 24 this Friday. Smith College said they hope to find a way to honor her during next week’s commencement.