MSU grad gets a surprise outside her Kentwood home


KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Graduation ceremonies may be canceled, but some celebrations can’t be stopped as a Michigan State University grad was surprised with a congratulatory parade outside her Kentwood home on Saturday.

Bryanna Williams couldn’t believe her eyes as she walked outside her house to see more than a dozen friends and family honking and waving from their cars that were decorated with bright signs and blowing balloons.

Balloons for Bryanna Williams' birthday parade on May 2, 2020.
Balloons for Bryanna Williams’ parade for her college on May 2, 2020.

Williams’ family planned the surprise to take place during what would have been her graduation weekend until MSU and universities everywhere had to make the hard decision to cancel any traditional commencement ceremonies amid concerns of coronavirus.

Shocked and overwhelmed with emotion, Williams teared up as friends and family honked and hollered congratulatory cheers from their cars.

“Bryanna is a hard person to make cry and show emotion, so to see her so emotional today was amazing,” Williams’ mom, Rilla Wilson, said.

A photo of Bryanna Williams' parade for her college graduation on May 2, 2020.
A photo of Bryanna Williams’ parade for her college graduation on May 2, 2020.

There were no caps or gowns, but there was a diploma. Williams’ loved ones handed her a stand-in diploma as she is still waiting for her official certificate to come in the mail.

Like so many college seniors, Williams admits it was disappointing to learn the traditional graduation festivities had to be canceled as this accomplishment didn’t come easy.

“It took me a long time to get here,” Williams said. “I did not have a lot of faith in myself.”

As a fifth-year senior, Williams said this last stretch proved to be the most challenging.

“A lot of struggle and patience because I also work full time, and I was commuting this year,” she said.

As friends and family gathered at a distance after the parade, Williams was reminded of how important their love and support has been along the way.

A photo of Bryanna Williams' parade for her college graduation on May 2, 2020.
A photo of Bryanna Williams’ parade for her college graduation on May 2, 2020.

“They’re really rooting for me,” Williams said.

It was a milestone for the graduate and a proud moment for mom and dad.

“(Seeing) our daughter graduate and go on to that next level and to be able to have friends and family come together while social distancing still,” her father, Mark Williams, said. 

Williams is also proud of herself and all she has accomplished throughout her college career.

“Thank you, Michigan State, for teaching me everything in the last five years,” she said. “I feel like I grew as a person, as a woman, and now I’m ready to take on the world. Go green, go white!”

There is still one more hoorah to be had as Williams and her family look forward to tuning into MSU’s virtual commencement ceremony on May 16. 

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