Borders can’t keep high school graduate Sarai Ruiz from seeing her dad.
Sarai Merari Ruiz received her diploma from Hector J. Garcia Early College High School in Laredo, Texas on Friday, but there was one important person missing from the audience— her father.
Sarai is originally from Wisconsin, where she and her family lived. But her father was eventually deported back to Mexico. Sarai, age 18, eventually moved with her mother to Nuevo Laredo, and she was able to see her father.
But, each day, Sarai crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to attend school in Laredo. Her hard work has paid off for as she became the first in her family to graduate from high school.
“When I heard my name to receive my diploma, I thought that I am just one of many who crosses the borders of this country every day to receive an education,” she told the Laredo Morning Times
. “It is not only an achievement for me, but for my parents—for all the effort they have made so that I can get an education.”
Right after she turned the tassel and tossed her graduation cap in the air on Friday, Sarai made a trip to the border so her father could see her in a cap and gown.
She posted the video of her father’s reaction on Facebook on Friday, which has gone viral.
“I graduated today,” Sarai writes. “I tried so hard not to cry when we saluted our parents knowing that only my mom was there. I knew my father would never see me walk to get my diploma but today I’d thought I’d surprise him by crossing the bridge so he could see me with my cap and gown.”
“I decided to see my father on the bridge. More than anything because he did not come to see me at my graduation, and I wanted him to see me dressed in my cords, my medals and the achievements I had reached thanks to his efforts and my mother’s. That’s why, as soon as the ceremony was over, I went to the bridge so that my father could see me,” she told the Laredo Morning Times.
In the fall, Ruiz will be enrolling at the University of Texas at Austin where she will pursue her degree in psychology and government. She did display gratitude for her parent’s support. “I know it will be hard for my parents to go to another city, but my mother says that I must follow my dreams and that they will support me in everything I do.”