It’s a strange year for the class of 2020. After all that hard work, many high school and college seniors won’t get to walk across the stage to receive diplomas.
As the school year comes to a close, many graduates have used social media to mark the occasion and share their future plans. Students posed for photos in cap and gown, shared typed up reflections, maybe there were balloons or celebratory desserts…but Gabrielle Pierce’s dad really took his daughter’s social distance approved commencement ceremony to the next level.
“After all those years, you’re going to walk across somebody’s stage if I have to build you one myself,” Torrence Burson told Fox13 Memphis.
Burson saw that his daughter was disappointed because her graduation ceremony, after four years at Xavier University of Louisiana, was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. So he decided to build a stage in the family’s driveway.
“I went to bed— I woke up in the middle of the night, and I said, ‘that’s it, I’m just going to bring the graduation here,’” Burson said.
His wife told him he was crazy, and Gabrielle was skeptical at first, but the self-proclaimed “Daddy’s girl” told Fox13 her dad is known for over-the-top gestures.
And over-the-top it was: Burson’s stage included a podium, and the ceremony featured a procession, invocation, national anthem, welcome, another song, a commencement address, and finally the conferring of Gabrielle’s degree.
He even had programs made with the Xavier University seal printed at the top, his daughter’s bio, and a joke about Whitney Houston performing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The ceremony was complete with an audience of friends and neighbors, and passersby shouted congratulations to the Xavierite.
“I was just in awe, I was amazed. I just couldn’t believe that a lot of people showed up and people were acknowledging it as they drove by,” Gabrielle said.
Burson says it was hard work, but it was definitely 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.”
Dad really pulled it off this time— Gabrielle said the personal ceremony in her front yard may have been even better than a traditional college graduation.
Gabrielle graduates with a degree in Public Health Science for Epidemiology and plans to join the armed forces to someday work for the CDC.
Congratulations Gabrielle! Get out there and save the world!