Kara Perkins agreed to go along when one of her friends said she needed to drop off some paperwork at Northern Kentucky University on Monday.
When they walked into the president’s office at NKU, Perkins had a puzzled look on her face. Then she saw members of her family gathered in an adjoining meeting room with her father holding a graduation gown.
Perkins was unable to attend the formal commencement ceremonies at NKU on May 11 because her 11-year-old daughter, Ariana, was taking part in a dance recital that same day.
But Perkins had a surprise commencement ceremony of her own on Monday when NKU President Geoffrey Mearns awarded her a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education.
Perkins was having a hard time holding back tears as she posed for photos with Mearns and her family members, including her daughter, Ariana, who attends Campbell Ridge Elementary School.
“I just really wanted her to see me graduate to see what I worked for,” Perkins said with her smiling daughter by her side.
When Stacie Hardy, vice principal at Campbell Ridge, found out Perkins had passed up the NKU graduation ceremonies to be at Ariana’s dance recital, she contacted Lynne Smith, a professor in the NKU Department of Teacher Education.
Smith contacted the NKU president’s office and was able to set up an individual diploma presentation for Perkins. The graduate’s family members and several members of the NKU administration were there to witness the special moment.
“It was quite a surprise and I am so thankful to everyone that had a part in it,” Perkins commented. “I am definitely feeling very blessed right now.”
Perkins returned to college three years ago to pursue a degree in elementary education. She decided to become a teacher after seeing how well her daughter did in a special education program at Campbell Ridge.
Perkins said she was impressed with “how the people there did so much for (Ariana) and how much of a difference they made in her life.”