The university, in Miami Gardens, Fla., came up with the idea to give him a degree because this year is the fifth anniversary of his death, and, had Mr. Martin lived and completed university in a four-year program, he would have graduated this spring, Ceeon Smith, a university spokeswoman, said an interview on Friday.
Ms. Fulton thanked the university on her Twitter account for the degree. In an interview on Friday, she said that the experience would be an emotional one but that she hoped it would inspire other students to pursue their academic dreams.
“Of course anybody can imagine that I would much rather be sitting in the audience and watching Trayvon walking across the stage and getting his bachelor’s degree,” she said. He wanted to continue his education either as an aviator or mechanic, she added. “He had not decided which one he wanted to do. That was near and dear to his heart, and it is absolutely something near and dear to Tracy’s heart and my heart.”
Mr. Martin was shot dead by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, on Feb. 26, 2012, at a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Mr. Martin was unarmed at the time, and his death — and the initial absence of charges against Mr. Zimmerman — prompted a nationwide outcry.
He was ultimately charged with second-degree murder but was acquitted after a jury in 2013 rejected the prosecution’s contention that he had deliberately pursued Mr. Martin because he assumed the hoodie-clad teenager was a criminal and instigated a fight. Mr. Zimmerman said he shot Mr. Martin in self-defense after the teenager knocked him to the ground, punched him and slammed his head repeatedly against the sidewalk.
Mr. Martin’s death inspired documentaries, films, and books that touched on racial bias and gun violence, and put a spotlight on Florida as a symbol of self-defense laws.
Mr. Martin’s love for flying was documented in news features after his death, including one in The Tampa Bay Times that said he had attended the George T. Baker Aviation School, and was inspired by his uncle, Ronald Fulton, who had a brief career in aviation, the newspaper report said.
Ms. Fulton said that Mr. Martin had studied with Barrington Irving, the first black person to pilot a plane around the world solo in 2007, in after-school and summer programs.
Florida Memorial University is a private, historically black institution with undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Established in 1879, it has about 1,400 students.
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