Alexa Williams should graduate from Old Dominion University in Virginia this spring. But when the graduation ceremony was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Williams instead received a special surprise from the people she loved.
The 23-year-old Chesterfield-born American thought she was going to have a bite to eat with her boyfriend in Virginia Beach on Saturday. However, when she got to the water, she found that her family had planned a special graduation ceremony in her honor.
“Organically, my friend told me that he would take me to breakfast on Saturday morning to celebrate my graduation. He told me to bring my hat, ”said Williams, who received a degree in sports science and psychology.
But she soon found that her family had worked out a surprise graduation plan to celebrate her performance, leaving her “absolutely shocked”.
“We went to the hotel where the restaurant is supposed to be and the receptionist said they weren’t open until noon,” Williams told Yahoo Life. “We go outside to the beach and I see my whole family, my head coach … the local news channel. Then I was interviewed and spent the rest of the day with my family. “
The beach was a perfect place to graduate from Williams, as the graduate went to the water so quickly as a new student. When she first arrived at ODU, Williams had no rowing experience but still joined the school team. She received a scholarship and even a place on the team’s top boat for two years.
“I had no experience,” said Williams. “I played basketball, discus and shot put. Competitiveness was a hobby of mine. I enjoyed challenges and worked my way to the top! “
When Williams’ family celebrated their graduation on Saturday, Dan Garbutt, the head coach of the ODU rowing team, was there to honor them. He even gave a speech to the crowd.
“I don’t know that I will ever find someone like her again,” Garbutt told WTKR. “To be a top performer every day as well as the person who keeps the mood exactly where it needs to be so that the energy is right. That is something very special.”
“My coach was the nicest coach I’ve ever had as an athlete,” Williams told Yahoo. “He really makes you feel accepted and teaches us that anything is possible. I held back tears when my head coach delivered his speech! “
As Williams has achieved so much in such a short time, the graduate says that she attributes everything to a hard-working attitude.
“Hard work, dedication and resilience,” said Williams. “I think if you work hard and are optimistic, things will be easier for you.”
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