Memphis native Torrence Burson couldn't stand to see his daughter, Gabrielle Pierce, upset over the fact she didn't get to have a traditional graduation ceremony. After spending four years at Xavier University of Louisiana, Burson wanted his daughter's accomplishments to be acknowledged.
"After all those years, you’re going to walk across somebody’s stage if I have to build you one myself," Burson told the local Fox affiliate.
And that's exactly what Burson did. The father turned their driveway into a commencement ceremony that was fitted with a podium, an audience, and a stage. To make the ceremony feel official, Burson included a procession, invocation, national anthem, welcome, song, commencement address, and the conferring of his daughter's degree. Burson even created mock programs which jokingly read that Whitney Houston would be singing "The Star-Spangled Banner."
"Gabrielle graduated from Southwind High School in 2015 with the ambition to attend The Illustrious Xavier University of Louisiana to achieve a degree in Biology Pre-Medicine," the program read, per Blavity. "During her junior year of college, she decided to go into another direction of medicine by deciding to go into Public Health Science for Epidemiology. After all the trials and tribulations she went through, she completed college with 130 credit hours. She now plans to join the Armed forces to accomplish her end goal of working for the CDC."
The commencement drew the attention of Burson's neighbors, who documented the ceremony on Instagram. Although this was no easy feat, Burson says it was worth it to make his daughter feel celebrated.
"We love our daughter this much. Regardless of the dollar figure, what it took to pull this off," he said. "If I had to do this over again, I’d probably do it even bigger."