This dad’s daughter got her own college graduation ceremony

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Xavier University’s cancellation of its graduation ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic didn’t stop one Tennessee senior from walking across the stage.

That’s because Torrence Burson decided to throw his daughter her own personal graduation ceremony in the front yard of their Memphis home, complete with a stage to walk across, a podium for speeches and a supporting audience in the street.

Gabrielle Pierce told Fox 13 in Memphis that she was devastated when her university had to cancel its ceremony. Burson said he felt her pain and decided to take action, even if his wife thought he was crazy.

“After all those years, you’re going to walk across somebody’s stage if I have to build you one myself,” he told his daughter.

When the day came, Pierce walked to the stage as a loudspeaker blared “The Graduation March” and neighbors lined the street to cheer her on.

“I was amazed. I couldn’t believe a lot of people showed up. People were driving by yelling congratulations,” said Pierce, who plans to join the Air National Guard and then study epidemiology. “It was just amazing. Better than the actual graduation, because it was more personal.”

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Follow AP coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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