Family fights to have loved one remembered at college graduation

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A family is fighting to have their loved one who died honored at her college’s graduation ceremony.

Tara Lynn Balcer, 33, died in January. She was a student at Hudson County Community College and was studying to be a teacher.

Her sister Andrea Buzinkai has been petitioning the school to mention Balcer at graduation, but so far the school has refused.

“Just basically 30 seconds of their time to mention my sister’s name at the ceremony,” Buzinkai says. “We are not requesting a diploma or anything like that.

Buzinkai says that she wrote the school 70 emails before officials even responded.

A spokesperson for HCCC offered sympathy and told News 12 New Jersey, “One of the best ways to recognize Ms. Balcer is to acknowledge her life and passing in the college's yearbook, and we are doing that.  In doing so, she will be memorialized in a lasting manner, one that her fellow students will see and remember."

But Buzinkai says that this is not what her family has requested.

“Very unsympathetic.  Degrading, inhumane. I think it's unfair,” she says.

The family has started a petition on in an effort to get the school to change its mind.

"Basically just to help my family and I to have a little closure on her passing,” Buzinkai says. “This is basically the last chance I have in my life to honor my sister."

Local elected officials in Hudson County have also offered to help persuade school officials to change their minds.

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