The University of Tennessee held its Fall 2018 commencement Friday morning. 

The ceremony marks the beginning of a new phase for new degree holders. But for one family, the day held even more meaning. A student received not only her diploma, but also a surprise visit from her brother, who is home on leave from his U.S. Air Force assignment.

WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Elizabeth Kuebel brings us the touching reunion.

The moment is one sure to put a smile on your face or bring tears to your eyes. An already exciting day for Amaya Linsey was made extra special. 

“My brother is in the Air Force, and I haven’t seen him since December of last year and he was able to come today,” Linsey said. 

And as Amaya walked across the stage to get her diploma, seeing her brother standing there waiting for her, was certainly something she never expected. 

“I actually didn’t notice him because I was looking at my feet, but he called my name and then I looked up at him, and I feel like I doubled back too, like I was shocked, I covered my face and I instantly started crying,” she said. 

The reunion was just as meaningful for her big brother.

“It was just us two, the world froze and it was just us two in that moment,” Jerald Linsey said.  

Jerald is an Airman First Class, home this weekend on leave from his air force assignment in North Dakota. 

“I didn’t know when the next time I would see him so to have him here on my graduation day, which I’m getting emotional again, but it was just really special to have him here, and it made me really happy,” Amaya said. 

That was made evident by the smiles on their faces – celebrating a day they’ll both likely never forget.

Amaya’s degree is in retail and consumer science. She’ll spend the next few months traveling and looking for a job in fashion retailing. Her brother Jerald will be in town until Sunday.