A Georgia high school graduate received more than her diploma Thursday when her Army Reserve sergeant father traveled half way around the world to be present for the ceremony.
Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Dedrick Clark secretly returned from Kuwait after spending eight months away from his family overseas and collaborated with his wife and his daughter Dia's principal to pull off the surprise, MyFoxAtlanta.com reported.
"She has no idea, I talked to her today... and she has no idea. She thinks I'm still over in Kuwait," Clark told MyFoxAtlanta.com before the ceremony.
The moment of surprise came as Dia was crossing the stage to receive her diploma. As she made her way to the podium, the Georgia Dome erupted in applause when the announcer added, "here to congratulate Dia, just returned active duty from Kuwait is her father."
"He's my biggest fan, my biggest supporter through everything and I'm so glad he made it," Dia told MyFoxAtlanta.com.
Clark is scheduled to return to Kuwait in a week. He said he plans to spend the time home to catch up with the rest of the family and just be together.
Dia graduated with honors and is the recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, one of only 1,000 nationwide. She plans to attend the University of Georgia in the fall where she was offered a full scholarship. Dia said her inspiration is her father.
Clark said he plans to return to the United States on a more permanent basis so when she crosses the stage again, he won't have to travel halfway across the world to see it, MyFoxAtlanta.com reported.