KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Thousands of students across the state are celebrating graduation this weekend, but one high school senior got a surprise of a lifetime when an unexpected guest showed up at commencement.
Graduation is a special day for seniors like JaKiah George.
“I’m so excited to graduate,” she said. “I’m so ready to go on with my new journey to the University of Memphis. Go Tigers.”
George has been waiting a long time for her senior year to come to an end as her graduation from Knoxville Christian School marks a new beginning.
While she sits through the commencement ceremony, she is unaware of who is watching her– her brother.
Jawan George is in the U.S. Navy. He has been gone for a year and a half, stationed on an aircraft carrier in Norfolk, Virginia.
“It was very emotional him even choosing to go into the Navy,” their mom LaQuanda Brabson said.
Jawan has only seen his sister and the rest of his family through video calls until now.
“He actually got OK’ed to leave the day before,” explained Brabson. “So right in the nick of time, he was approved for his leave.”
Jawan snuck into the back of the room to surprise his sister just as her name was called on stage.
JaKiah was shocked to see her brother,
“I wanted to just run down and hug him.”
Jakiah added, “I was just trying to hold my tears because I didn’t want everyone to see me cry up there. So, I was very excited.”
After the ceremony, JaKiah ran to her brother to give him a hug. It was an unforgettable moment for the whole family.
“Him being gone, it was really emotional for me,” said Brabson. “Him being here it’s just amazing that I get to hug him and that was the first thing I did when he walked through the door was give him a great big hug.”
Jawan adds, “It’s just a blessing to be able to come out and surprise her. I’m just really happy to be here with her.”
Like graduation, this reunion was another moment JaKiah and her brother Jawan have been waiting a long time for.
“I’m super happy to see her graduation,” said Jawan. “It’s a big accomplishment. I’m just really happy right now.”
Jawan George will be in town to spend time with his family for a week. Not only do they have graduation to celebrate but a couple of family birthdays too.
JaKiah George will be attending the University of Memphis in the fall to study Psychology.