In 2016, Taleigh Loven made the decision to enroll at Grand Canyon University and pursue a degree in psychology. That sent her on a journey of a little more than four years to complete her degree this past October.
What she didn’t know was that her father, Mike Loven, also made the decision to enroll at GCU, and took online classes toward a degree right after she started.
That led to the ultimate surprise at her graduation party this past October—the revelation that her dad was graduating from the same school she was. In fact, he showed up to her graduation party wearing the same cap and stole that she was wearing!
According to CNN, Taleigh, 23, burst in tears upon seeing her 47-year-old dad carrying a diploma with his name on it.
“My first and only thought was that I was just so so proud of him,” she told CNN. “I was like, wait did you really go to college?”
Mike kept it a secret, noting, “There was no malicious or real reason for hiding it from the family — I just thought the surprise would be so fun. I work a lot and I’m always on my laptop, so no one really knew that I was working on stuff for school all those years.”
Mike runs his own staffing company originally founded by his father, and has worked there since graduating high school. He initially determined he didn’t need the college, but upon seeing his daughter enroll at GCU, decided to pursue a degree in finance and economics.
He worked while taking online classes the entire time. That led Taleigh to tell Good Morning America, which also covered the story, “During the time that he was working on his degree, he carried the load for us as he has for my entire life. His selfless act shows a glimpse to his character. Words truly cannot express how proud I am of him.”
As he told CNN, the most challenging aspect “was during stressful midterm seasons when his wife, son and daughter — who were all studying at various universities at the time — would ask him for help with school-related issues and he couldn’t tell him that he had his own schoolwork to worry about. That, he says, resulted in many late nights at the computer.”
Taleigh is planning to continue her education by pursuing a master’s degree in psychology, whereas Mike says he won’t be following in her footsteps with his own.
(As far as anyone knows.)