Like most 2020 graduates, 22-year-old Derrick Williams had accepted the fact that he wouldn’t be walking across the stage for his commencement ceremony.
He just completed his pre-med psychology degree at Baylor University and plans to attend medical school in the fall. After all his hard work, his mom, Ayanna Tatum of Houston, Texas, was determined to celebrate him, so she teamed up with a friend and got to work!
Derrick’s extended family had originally planned to come to his graduation, so he “was a little disappointed” by the change of plans.
Thankfully, his awesome mom was there to save the day! “I wanted to do anything to get him remotely close to a ceremony,” she told GMA. “He’s just an amazing kid.”
After seeing a similar idea on Facebook, Ayanna started planning a huge surprise with some help from her party planner friend.
On the big day, Derrick showed up at his mom’s house for what he thought was lunch — only to be blown away by a personalized graduation! They even had a stage and an inspirational speech from Derrick’s middle school assistant principal!
“I wanted to make it as realistic as possible, so I told him, ‘Your last name begins with a ‘W,’ so it’s going to be awhile before you’re called,'” Ayanna said later. “And at the end I screamed like I was in the arena, like I would have done if I was at Baylor.”
She also made sure he had a crowd of loved ones safely participating in the celebration, and it turned out to be a perfect day! In his mom’s words, “When you see it pay off and come together, that’s an excitement you can’t describe.”
Ayanna is obviously one very proud parent! Congratulations, Derrick! We’re rooting for you as you prepare for the next chapter in your life.
Watch the sweet ceremony in the video below, and be sure to share this story with your friends.
Want to be happier in just 5 minutes a day? Sign up for Morning Smile and join over 455,000+ people who start each day with good news.