Dad Builds Daughter Graduation Stage in Driveway and Holds Ceremony


May 20, 2020
Graduation, Stage, Father, Daughter, Class of 2020

Sengchoy Inthachack / EyeEm

Virtual graduation ceremonies have become the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, but some families are trying to find even more creative ways to celebrate their senior's accomplishments.

One dad in Louisiana went so far as to rent graduation regalia from a local convention center rental company to help create his own ceremony for his daughter in their driveway.

Gabrielle Pierce was set to graduate from Xavier University of Louisiana on May 9 with a bachelor's degree in public health science, but that was canceled due to the virus. Torrence Burson hated seeing his daughter upset and decided one night that was going to throw her a graduation ceremony that she will never forget.

Burson ordered a stage, podium, and graduation regalia from a local convention center rental company and set it all up in their driveway. He spent two hours putting all the banners and decorations in place.

Then while the traditional graduation song, “Pomp and Circumstance” played, Pierce walked out of her house in her graduation cap and gown stunned by the ceremony her father put together. 

Pierce's aunt, Dr. Deborah Smith, and the family pastor, Rev. Eric J. Knowles, ran the commencement and gave speeches, while family members and neighbors stood on the lawn, within a safe distance from each other, to celebrate. 

It was definitely a moment none of those involved will ever forget.

Pierce plans on joining the Army National Guard and then pursuing a master's degree in epidemiology.