With many in-person graduation ceremonies canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, one husband decided to surprise his wife with a backyard graduation ceremony.
“We were sitting around the table having lunch on Saturday and Ashlyn randomly said that she would have walked across the stage today,” said Derek Jones. “After all the late nights and all-nighters she’s pulled studying and completing assignments before their deadlines, she definitely deserved some type of ceremony so I said let’s do it.”
Ashlyn said before she knew it, Derek and their three kids were outside turning their back patio deck into a graduation stage.
Having to get a little creative, the family quickly turned their deck into a stage with a ladder covered in a blanket as the podium, the karaoke machine served as the sound system and they even printed a banner with the Texas A&M University logo and ‘2020 Graduation Ceremony’ which they hung on the fence.
“I was so excited that I was officially about to ‘walk the stage’ I FaceTimed my mom and sister to invite them to my graduation. I was about to graduate! My mom was working but my sister rushed over.” said Ashlyn.
Once the stage was set, family members (all four of them) found their seats before Ashlyn walked into the backyard wearing her high school cap and gown, to the traditional graduation music, ‘Pomp and Circumstance.’
“Good evening everyone,” said Derek in the video. “I want to thank you for coming out today to the Spring 2020 Texas A&M University-Commerce graduation ceremony of one.”
“It was truly a special moment because Derek worked really hard to make it perfect for me,” said Ashlyn. “I had to hold back the tears because honestly if it weren’t for him I don’t know where I would be. I definitely probably wouldn’t be reaching my dreams of becoming a teacher. I got the degree but he put in the sacrifices of long work hours, watching the kiddos so I could attend classes, helping me study, etc.”
Ashlyn, who graduated from North Lamar in 2013 and attended Paris Junior College where she earned her Associates in Applied Science, said it was such a special moment and one she will never forget.
“I was excited because this has been my dream for a long time. I had Jaxen when I was a sophomore in high school, barely 16 years old, and I made a promise to myself (and my family) that I would finish college,” she said. “Well, life happened and I had two more babies and took me longer than I hoped. But now I can finally say that I have my bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M Commerce and I will hopefully get a job and begin teaching in the fall.”
Derek said it may not have been the graduation ceremony she always dreamed of but its a memory they will never forget.
“I am so proud of her,” said Derek.