(WJBK) - A high school senior getting ready for graduation -- but one very important person won't be there to see her receive that diploma.
Nina Ross is an inspiration. In 2013 her mother was murdered and the case remains unsolved. But despite her pain, the teen is honoring her mother by succeeding in the classroom.
In late October of 2013, someone shot and killed Nina's mother, Tiane Brown.
"My mother, mother, beautiful inside and out."
The 33-year-old woman's body was found in a field on Detroit's east side. It happened when Brown left a night class at Wayne State University. Tiane Brown never made it back home.
The last conversation between a mother and daughter: "She picked me up from school and was driving me to my grandmother's house," Nina said. "And we were talking about getting me a math tutor and just improving academically.
"She dropped me off and I said that I love you, and she went to school."
Nina Ross has remained strong and continues to strive for greatness - and her teachers at West Bloomfield High School have been by her side along the way.
"They were very understanding and very helpful and they helped me actually finish my freshman year with a 4.0 - exactly," Nina said.
FOX 2: "Right after that happened?"
"Yes," she said. "Right after that happened."
The top notch student is being recognized for her will to succeed. She won first place in the 2017 Excellence in Education Scholarship.
It's rewarded to high school students who have excelled in academics while facing personal challenges.
"You have to keep going and you have to go throughout your life the way my mother would have wanted me to do it," Nina said.
This fall, Nina Ross will attend Wayne State University on a full tuition paid scholarship. Her plan is to major in Public Relations.
For the young woman, this is home because it's where her mother earned all of her degrees.
"I was really young and she was really young and I was with her a lot, down there," Nina said.
The rings you see on her fingers bring back great memories.
"This is my mother's engagement ring, my grandmother's wedding band, and my mother's ring right after she got her engineering degree," Nina said. "I wear them every day."
She knows she may never have closure in her mother's death.
"I think about that every day," Nina said. "For nearly the past four years, I think about that every day."
But at the very least, Nina Ross is well on her way to building a great life for herself.