Parents respond to son’s cancelled graduation with ‘innovative’ gift: ‘I was a little embarrassed’

A PhD student is going viral after sharing the “innovative” way his parents chose to celebrate his graduation.

Brandon Truett was just about to earn a doctorate in English at the University of Chicago when, like millions of students nationwide, his semester was flipped upside down.

With classes moving online, he was forced to defend his dissertation via Zoom, and his graduation ceremony was canceled, according to Mashable.

That didn’t stop Truett’s parents from celebrating, though. In lieu of an in-person ceremony, they congratulated their son with something much more creative: a massive billboard.

Truett posted a photo of the billboard, which was posted in his hometown of Conway, S.C., on May 5. The image racked up more than 140,000 likes in just two days.

“It felt weird, maybe even futile, to celebrate my achievement at home, esp as the pandemic exacerbates an already vanishing job market,” Truett captioned his post. “But, I gotta say, this ostentatious display of support from my Dad, who didn’t graduate high school, has got me feeling proud of myself today.”

The recent grad told Mashable that at first, it was difficult looking at a giant, roadside version of his face, but he quickly realized how much the gesture meant to him.

“At first, I was, I’ve gotta say, a little embarrassed — I don’t know if I’ve ever seen my face on that massive scale,” Truett said. “But yeah, I thought it was incredible. A very innovative, creative way to make my achievement public since there won’t be a commencement — or at least not an in-person commencement — and there haven’t been in-person celebrations.”

Truett’s tweet sparked a wave of heartwarming responses, with Twitter users congratulating him and remarking on his parents’ kindness. He later shared a follow-up message thanking everyone for their support.

“It has been really amazing to see people all over the world connect w my dad’s grand gesture and amplify it w their own stories of hope and perseverance. thanks to y’all for sharing,” he tweeted.

If you liked this story, check out In The Know’s article on the New Yorker who went viral after posting a sign helping her elderly neighbors.

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