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    Graduate Shares a Special Moment With Her Dad

    "As I walked, I looked up to the sky saying, 'I did it, Dad!'" (Photo by Herbert Keller, S.J., vice president for mission and ministry)
    June 13, 2021

    Emma Davidson '21 lost her father to cancer just two days before graduation. In part because of a promise she made to him, she walked across the stage to get her diploma on May 23. Later, she shared her story on social media:

    A little over two months ago, my entire world flipped upside down. How I thought I was going to close out my college career took a turn in another direction and I rethought my life post-grad.

    On April 5, I got a call from my mom and she told me my father was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon cancer. The day after I found out, I called my dad and he said to me, “Emma, you need to do exactly what you need to do to make sure you’re OK in this world. Get your degree and make yourself happy. Whether I have two months, two years or even 20, you need to make sure you are alright. It’s in God's hands and I’ll always be proud of you.”

    Two days before I could walk and get my diploma, my father passed away peacefully at home. I sat with him until he took his final breath and asked him to walk beside me moving forward. I made a promise to my dad that I would finish out strong and make him proud.

    On May 23, 2021, I graduated from The University of Scranton with a Bachelor of Arts degree in strategic communications. As I walked, I looked up to the sky saying, “I did it, Dad!” And somehow that moment was caught on film.

    From what my father told me, I plan to go forward, do what I need to do and continue to make him proud. After all, I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.

    Davidson has received an outpouring of support since posting her story on social media. 

    "I can't express how thankful I am for The U and I am grateful for the school being a big part of my story with my dad. Without my experience there, I wouldn't have the friends, professors or family who have -- and still are -- helping me through this new adjustment," she said recently.

    She was especially grateful to Herbert Keller, S.J., vice president of mission and ministry at Scranton, who captured the photo of her from the stage on graduation day while she looked to the sky.

    "It was a very special thing to hear from him after graduation," she said. "Fr. Keller touched on how he believes it was a sign from my father and God to have a special remembrance of that moment. After he told me about the photo, it touched my heart because my family and I hold a lot of faith, especially my dad. During his short diagnosis, he only spoke to a priest. I think there is something special in how it wasn’t just some random coincidence, but that Fr. Keller was the one to capture this moment for me." 

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