Most colleges host commencement ceremonies each December and May, but Texas A&M recently made an exception for a dying father who's one wish was to see his daughter graduate from his alma mater.
Fifty-seven-year-old Jim Brewer, who's nearing the end of his battle with terminal pancreatic cancer, recently received that wish after the College Station-based university held a special commencement at his home in Austin, Texas. There he was able to see his 23-year-old daughter, Jenny, adorned in full cap-and-gown, receive her college diploma.
"One of the last things on my bucket list was to see my daughter graduate, but I didn't think I was going to make it," Brewer told the Austin American-Statesmen. "Just seeing her get her degree."
Brewer's 26-year-old son, Nick, was the one who hatched the idea of a home ceremony. Just one week prior, he phoned A&M's vice president of student affairs, Daniel Pugh, who also happened to be a friend, and inquired about the possibility of a personal ceremony, given his father's situation. Pugh decided to make it happen.
"With the experience I’ve had with Texas A&M before and knowing the kind of people they are, I was optimistic," Nick told the American-Statesman. "But to get the response from the people I got it from was pretty cool."
As the ceremony was underway — headed by Texas A&M Associate Dean John Hurtado — Brewer's wife, Lisa, kneeled by his side and smiled while he wiped away tears from his face. Jim and Lisa held hands as their other children stood behind them.
Jenny, who will receive her degree in aerospace engineering on May 12, the school's official commencement date, was just happy her father was able to see her graduate.
"I think it’s just amazing everyone showed up," she said. "I just want to thank Texas A&M. The Aggies are awesome."
The special ceremony was kept a secret until one day prior.
"This is beyond my expectations," he said.
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