Most college graduates walk the stadium stage, but not Jeffrey Athey. Jeffrey wanted to "walk across the stage" at Cecil Bomar Rehabilitation Center, so his mother, Cheryl Athey, could witness his graduation from Angelina College with his associate's degree. Mrs. Athey is a patient at Bomar due to inoperable brain aneurysms, but Jeffrey's graduation was just what was needed to bring good cheer for the holidays.
As all graduation ceremonies do, Jeffrey's commencement exercise began with Pomp and Circumstance playing, as Jeffrey marched through the Bomar activity room toward his mother. Mrs. Athey was able to hand Jeffrey his diploma as Toyia Urbaniak, Bomar program director, announced Jeffrey's name and degree. The audience included Jeffrey's father, Fred Athey, and a variety of Memorial Health team members, some of whom had known Mrs. Athey for years as a kindergarten teacher at the SFA Early Childhood Research Center.
Bomar Rehab's intern, Chasity Mooney, was a student of Mrs. Athey's in the late 1990s. She helped orchestrate the graduation ceremony, but she wasn't' the only one in the room who had been touched by Mrs. Athey's kind hand. Memorial dietician, Vanessa Hooper, said that all four of her children were privileged to spend their kindergarten years with Mrs. Athey. Donna McCollum, KTRE reporter who covered the ceremony for the local news, shared that experience too. Her son was in the same kindergarten class as Chasity. All were in tears by the end of the ceremony, but all were honored to be a part.
"Mrs. Athey built the foundation for my education and was always so comforting and strong at the same time," said Chasity.
Ms. Athey reportedly keeps up with her former students on Facebook, and always shares positive words and encouragement on their accomplishments and achievements.
Jeffrey Athey seems to have well learned one of his mom's most important lessons - accomplishments and achievements are so much sweeter when shared with those we love.