COVID-19 forced us all to get seriously creative when it comes to celebrating life’s big moments.
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When 29-year-old Trent Johnson finished his medical school studies at Ohio State University, his entire family was excited to celebrate the family’s first-ever doctorate degree. He had about 40 family members slated to fly in for his graduation day in May 2020 – and then the pandemic hit.
When Trent found out that his in-person ceremony was canceled, he was heartbroken.
“I got an email, and it said, graduation canceled,” he recalled. “And my heart just, like, sank. I went into my bedroom, and I cried – like, boohoo-type cried.”
Trent’s mom called to cheer him up, and she reminded him that not having a big ceremony is not the end of the world.
“And she said to me, this does not negate the fact that you’ve worked so hard to get here,” Trent said. “We are going to do everything in our power to make this day special for you.”
Trent’s parents got to work, ordering party decorations online and rearranging their living room for an at-home celebration. On the big day, their family logged in to a video conference to watch remotely. Trent dressed in his full cap, sash, and gown, and everyone cheered wildly as he walked solemnly to the front of the room to receive his diploma.
“As I came down the hallway, my emotions just transformed from this is weird and odd; this is my family, my mom’s face, the camera – to like OK, this is real. And I just totally broke down,” Trent said.
Excuse me as I walk across this living room. My parents are sounding off 50million sirens because this degree is theirs as well ðŸ˜Š #OSUCOM #MedConvocation2020#graduation2020 #HippOath #HoodingCeremony #blackexcellence #blackdoctorsmatter @OhioStateMed pic.twitter.com/vZP0SCnsjK– Trent Johnson, MD (@trentjohnsonjr) May 2, 2020
You can tell his family is over the moon about his accomplishment! After he shared video of his at-home ceremony online, he went viral with hundreds of thousands of likes, comments, and shares. Everyone especially loved his brother dancing in joy, and the warm hug Trent shared with his mother. He says the whole experience made a lasting impression on him and he didn’t miss the “real thing” at all!
“Those experiences from that day are something that I’ll never forget,” he said. “And I don’t think that there’s any formal graduation that could top what happened in that living room. I hope what I’m doing reaches other boys and girls who may be from under-represented backgrounds in medicine. I hope it encourages them to push really hard, and to dream.”
Trent is currently doing his medical residency at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments, doctor!
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