Father pulls out all the stops for ‘at-home’ graduation after university ceremony cancelled

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For most of the Class of 2020, graduation looks a little different this year. Many high school and college seniors won’t get to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. But one father made sure his daughter’s big day was special, despite the circumstances.

Gabrielle Pierce was devastated - 4 years, all that work, and no chance to walk across the stage at Xavier University in Louisiana.

Her dad wasn’t going to let that fly, so he threw her a graduation himself.

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“After all those years, you’re going to walk across somebody’s stage if I have to build you one myself,” Torrence Burson told FOX13.

Gabrielle Pierce will tell you she’s a daddy’s girl. She’ll also tell you her dad, Torrence Burson, is known for over the top gestures.

That’s why it came as no surprise when he told her he was going to throw her a graduation ceremony right in the front yard.

“Initially I was upset, I was crying. It took me like a week to stop crying. I really wanted to walk, I felt like I needed to walk,” Pierce said.

“I went to bed and woke up in the middle of the night and said, ‘that’s it. I’m just going to be the graduation here,'” Burson said.

Burson’s wife told him he was crazy and Pierce admitted she was skeptical at first. Then, before she knew it, graduation day was here.

“I was just I awe. I was amazed. I couldn’t believe a lot of people showed up. People were driving by yelling congratulations,” said Pierce.

A full stage, presenters, a loudspeaker blaring The Graduation March, and neighbors lining the street. Torrence pulled out all the stops.

“We love our daughter this much. Regardless of the dollar figure, what it took to pull this off. If I had to do this over again, I’d probably do it even bigger,” said Burson.

“It was just amazing. Better than the actual graduation, because it was more personal,” said Pierce.

Pierce said she plans to enter the Air National Guard before going back to school to become an Epidemiologist. She said she wants to work for the CDC.

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