By now, we all know the story of how the global crisis is depriving high school and college students and their families of well-earned graduation moments together. And, many of us have also heard the feel-good stories of how communities are creatively overcoming the odds by hosting individual ceremonies or by screening a pre-recorded ceremony at a drive-in theatre.
One dad, though, has won our hearts by giving his daughter a storybook ending to her college career, indeed. Torrence Burson, of Memphis, was determined to see his Xavier University of Louisiana grad, Gabrielle Pierce, walk across the stage after putting in four years of hard work.
Burson told his local TV station, “After all those years, you’re going to walk across somebody’s stage if I have to build you one myself.” Which is exactly what he did.
He transformed their driveway into a complete commencement set with a podium, stage and even an audience of neighbors lining the street. Burson then crafted a ceremony that included an invocation, procession, national anthem, welcome, custom-programs (that jokingly announced an appearance by Whitney Houston) and culminated with the conferring of a degree for Gabrielle.
According to Burson, it was well worth it. “We love our daughter this much. Regardless of the dollar figure, what it took to pull this off,” he said. “If I had to do this over again, I’d probably do it even bigger.”
Congratulations dad, on a job well done! And congratulations Gabrielle and the Class of 2020.
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Melissa Milsten lives in Westchester, New York with her husband, their four teenagers and Ruby the dog (who is sometimes the best behaved member of the family). Her background is in publishing and marketing. When she isn’t working or parenting, you might spot her on a yoga mat or lacing up a pair of sneakers. You can read more about her here.