A mother missed her own college graduation to witness her son’s commencement, but earned her diploma in a surprise double ceremony.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Sharonda Wilson was set to graduate with her bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University (FSU) in Big Rapids, Michigan, on Saturday — the same day her son Stephan Wilson would receive his diploma from Central Michigan University (CMU).
When CMU President Bob Davies discovered that Sharonda missed her big moment to support Stephan, he made a quick call to FSU president David Eisler, arranging for the pair to graduate together.
On Saturday at Plachta Auditorium at Central Michigan, Stephan fit a maroon-and-gold cap on his mother’s head while Davies dropped his announcement. “...Please pay attention,” said the president, who stood at the podium. “By the virtue of the authority vested in me, by the state of Michigan and the board of trustees, on behalf of President Eisler and Ferris State trustees, I confer upon you, Sharonda Wilson, the bachelor’s degree that you have earned, with all rights privileges pertaining thereto. Please move your tassel from your right to your left.”
To attend her son Stephan’s commencement ceremony, Sharonda Wilson was unable to attend her own from Ferris State University. Learning this, @cmichprez contacted FSU President Eisler and was able to confer her degree on behalf of FSU's president and trustees. #cmichgraduation pic.twitter.com/anCSTHDCdC— Central Michigan U. (@CMUniversity) May 4, 2019
Stephan pumped his fist in the air while the crowd screamed and cheered. “My mom has been so supportive of my education, and has been working so hard on her own educational journey,” Stephan tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It was unbelievably special to share this moment together at commencement with her. I had been looking forward to graduation for a long time, but this was so much more meaningful than I could have imagined.”
According to the Detroit Free Press, Stephan earned his degree in fine arts in music theater.
President Davies tells Yahoo Lifestyle that recognition for the mother-and-son was fitting. “The commencement ceremony is a celebration of student achievement and it acknowledges the passion, dedication and enthusiasm required to earn a college degree,” he says. “Sharonda and Stephan both put in the long hours and hard work, and they deserved the chance to celebrate together as a family. We appreciated the opportunity to partner with our friends at Ferris State to recognize and celebrate this milestone achievement for both Stephan and Sharonda.”
Eisler also tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “It is always a special occasion when a parent and a son or daughter can receive their degrees at the same commencement. I am delighted President Davies reached out to us and conferred Mrs. Wilson her degree on our behalf, along with her son, Stephan, on Saturday. This is a wonderful example of collaboration between our two universities, and we are proud to have created this memorable moment for them.”
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