Dozens of people brought the Coreeliza Tayong to him.
"At first, they told me my dad had about six months to live and then they had said maybe next week," Coreeliza said.
Suffering from acute respiratory failure, her 79-year-old father Virgilio Tayong will soon face death.
"He says that every day, 'When she graduates, my work will be complete,'" Dr. John Gasman said. "I think everyone recognizes he's going to have a hard time making it to that."
When Coreeliza graduates in May she'll be the first doctor in her family. Her father's one dying wish was to witness the turning of her tassel.
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"He just couldn't breathe anymore," Coreeliza said. "He told me, 'God, I'm not ready to go yet. My youngest still needs to graduate.'"
So, while the ceremony is ahead of schedule, for Virgilio, this surprise is right on time.
"Papa, the school found out you were sick," Coreeliza told her dad. "So, they wanted to bring the graduation to you."
"We're supposed to give her the diploma, but she hasn't graduated yet. This is supposed to be for Coreeliza, and we're going to give it to you instead okay?" a representative with the school told Virgilio.
"Call me Dr. Tayong, my accomplishments are your accomplishments papa," Coreeliza told her dad.
"I'm in heaven now," Virgilio said.
"You're still with us," Coreeliza said. "You're very much alive, papa."
"He is the most selfless person I know, and you could tell by all the people who are here today that he is loved, and I just wanted him to feel loved," Coreeliza said.
"My mission is accomplished, daddy," Coreeliza told her dad.
Coreeliza is going to take some time off to spend time with her father. But still, she plans on graduating from Marshall B. Ketchum University in mid-May with a doctorate in optometry.
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