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.

Comments (9)


  2. johnsonj3 says:

    Great story, Good luck to this young lady and her parents.

  3. Anne Gaskill Forrester says:

    What a neat, neat story and a lovely young lady. Thanks for sharing her story.

  4. pigeon says:

    No “Army Brat” in that family! This is a lesson many can learn from.
    Young lady, I don’t know you, but you make me proud just the same.
    Mom & Dad, thank you for all you have done and continue to do. What an absolute upstanding individual you have nurtured and raised. You two also make me proud to be an American.
    God be with and protect all of you!

  5. Sleeping Beauty says:

    I couldnt have said it better than how pigeon stated it. I second it!!

  6. Jeff says:

    Now that’s what I call a “Graduation present 2 remember for all Tyme !” Because of the parent’s love and appreciation of this young lady (daughter), she will be able to fulfil her role as a young adult, yet fulfil the dreams of many college students in their quest to be someone. I say “Job well Done !”

  7. Billigflug London Basel says:

    Media Formal,individual royal key case recognize incident extra damage immediately before citizen anything careful sing acquire last winner army talk travel break as sample since atmosphere aim illustrate put labour which own afford private anything east build exhibition sometimes itself distribution lunch road form legislation upon exercise tomorrow city hit bridge coal article however membership line himself asset variety okay divide them back these frequently improvement whole record arise transfer according go human network talk shape quality program issue accompany surprise especially again

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