dad builds stage for daughters graduation
Penelope Wilson
Penelope Wilson
May 21, 2020 ·  3 min read

Memphis Dad Builds Stage in His Driveway to Throw His Daughter a Graduation

Not all superheroes can lift airplanes or climb up buildings with their bare hands. Some are just regular dads who would go to any lengths to make their little girls stop crying. COVID-19 was about to ruin his daughter’s four-year-old dream of walking down the black carpet and stage at her graduation, but this Memphis dad’s love for his girl was enough to get ahead of a pandemic and bring her dream to life, even if it was a simple driveway graduation [1]

Just like most other graduates of the Class of 2020, Gabrielle Pierce was devastated when she graduated from the Xavier University in Louisiana under a state of emergency – which meant everything was done virtually and they didn’t get to walk across a stage or throw their hats up in the air. No pictures, no congratulations, no solid commemoration of her 4-year solid work at the university. She was deeply upset.

Her father, Torrence Burson decided he’d had enough. According to Fox 13 Memphis, Gabrielle is the ultimate daddy’s girl, and she’ll often say that her father is known for pulling off over-the-top gestures to put a smile on anyone’s face [2].

If over-the-top ever needed a visual description, this driveway graduation is all that’s required.

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A father’s simple driveway graduation

Of course, when Torrence came up with the idea, everyone told him he was crazy – as usual, but crazy is a good look on a dad with a mission to cheer his little girl up.

Initially I was upset, I was crying. It took me like a week to stop crying. I really wanted to walk, I felt like I needed to walk,” Gabrielle said.

“After all those years, you’re going to walk across somebody’s stage if I have to build you one myself,” Torrence FOX13. “I went to bed and woke up in the middle of the night and said, ‘that’s it. I’m just going to be the graduation here.”

Torrence put together a full, up-to-standard stage decorated in graduation black and called in some professor-like friends to play presenters. With “The Graduation March” blaring from the speakers, his daughter got to walk down the black carpet, up the elaborate stage to receive her precious certificate. Friends, family, and neighbors lined the street, cheering the girl as she glimmered like a star on her day of joy.

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 A more intimate ceremony

For Gabrielle, the disappointment turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise because the graduation she got struck her heart at more intimate chords, far better than a regular graduation ceremony could have ever done. She was in her home, right there in the front yard, and surrounded by the people she loved the most in the world. 

“I was just in awe. I was amazed. I couldn’t believe a lot of people showed up. People were driving by yelling congratulations. It was just amazing. Better than the actual graduation, because it was more personal.” said Gabrielle.

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She one day hopes to work with the CDC, but before that, she plans to join the Air National Guard before continuing her studies to become an epidemiologist.

Her father couldn’t be more proud of the ambitious young lady he’d raised.

“We love our daughter this much. Regardless of the dollar figure, what it took to pull this off, if I had to do this over again, I’d probably do it even bigger,” said Torrence.

Congratulations to Pierce and every 2020 graduate around the world, both pre-school, high school, and college. Graduations are now being held virtually due to the grim circumstances the world has been thrown into, but none of it makes your success and hard work any less significant. Cheers!

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