TOWSON, Md. (WJZ)—A Towson University student gets an unexpected graduation present. Her parents return from a war zone to celebrate the special day.
Weijia Jiang has more on the happy reunion.
Marking a milestone is not always easy.
“Senior year should have been one of the best years of my life, but it’s been one of the most challenging so far,” said Brandi Gervais, Towson University graduate.
Challenging for Gervais, Towson University student commencement speaker, because she went through senior year alone.
Her parents–both officers in the Army–left for Iraq last year, scheduled to miss her graduation.
“I was always under the impression they weren’t going to make it back, which was a bummer. That’s what added to my stress this year,” Gervais said.
Yet somehow, Gervais earned a degree in biology with a 4.0 grade point average. She was the captain of women’s cross country and track teams, named an academic all-American.
But Gervais says all that success can’t compare to her graduation gift.
“I spotted them right when I was walking in, I saw them,” she said.
The Gervais family traveled 8,000 miles from Baghdad to be there Thursday morning.They surprised her earlier in the week.
“I was just so proud to be sitting there, sitting there in her cap and gown and to see that she had accomplished so much. I’m just so proud,” said Col. Maria Gervais, mother.
“Actually open up her heart, explain and give a piece of herself instead of the rote congratulations stuff,” said Lt. Col. Chris Gervais, father.
Brandi Gervais says she’s proud too, and she’ll remember this moment for a lifetime.
“The reason I accomplished so much is because of them,” she said. “I would not be the person I am today without them, so I’m incredibly proud.”
From here, Brandi Gervais will do a one-year dental internship with the U.S. Army, and then it’s off to dental school.
Chris Gervais has now wrapped up his tour, but his wife will return to Iraq in the next couple of days to finish hers.