In a heartwarming and emotional surprise, a dedicated Navy service member stationed in the Middle East since last summer traveled for over 30 hours to attend his daughter's graduation on May 12.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Douglas Hernandez went above and beyond to coordinate this special moment, reaching out to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) to make it happen.
Valarie Burke, Ph.D., UNLV's assistant dean of graduate student services, received an email that would change the course of Pamela Hernandez's graduation day. Douglas Hernandez expressed his desire to surprise his daughter, who was graduating in May, while he remained overseas. Determined to help, the university staff collaborated with him to orchestrate a reunion that would be etched in their memories forever.
The reunion between Douglas and Pamela Hernandez was particularly meaningful because they hadn't seen each other in person since July of the previous year. The anticipation grew as they stood in the grand Thomas & Mack Center for the 2023 Spring Commencement. When their eyes finally met, Pamela couldn't contain her emotions, and tears of joy streamed down her face.
"I was shaking. I couldn't believe it," Pamela Hernandez shared with KTNV, reflecting on the overwhelming surprise. The significance of having her father by her side on this momentous day left her feeling grateful and elated. "I'm just happy to be here. I'm happy to have my dad here, and I'm happy to start a new chapter in life," she expressed with heartfelt sincerity. Pamela Hernandez proudly graduated with a Master of Public Administration degree, marking a milestone in her academic journey.
This touching reunion showcased the unwavering love and support that families share, even across great distances and challenging circumstances. The dedication and sacrifice of Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Douglas Hernandez, coupled with the heartfelt collaboration from UNLV, made this graduation day an extraordinary experience that Pamela Hernandez will cherish forever.
The story of this surprise reunion serves as a powerful reminder of the unbreakable bonds that families create, transcending time and distance. It exemplifies the resilience and determination of our service members who selflessly serve their country while supporting and uplifting their loved ones. The joyous celebration at UNLV's commencement reminds us of the incredible strength and love that unites families, inspiring us all to cherish these precious moments and embrace the next chapters of our lives with gratitude and optimism.