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Strangers On A Delayed Train Hold A Heartwarming ‘Graduation’ Ceremony

Gotham’s residents are the softies we always knew they were

When Jerich Marco Alcantara’s excited friends and relatives piled into a New York City subway car on Tuesday, they were hoping to travel from their home in Queens, New York, to Alcantara’s graduation from Hunter College on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Alcantara had already donned his purple cap and gown, and together, they were ready to celebrate his being the first person in the family to graduate from college. Let the festivities begin!


Except that Gotham’s subway system, notorious for its long delays, had other plans. The train Alcantara’s group was riding on suffered an emergency brake failure—which meant that instead of being early to Hunter’s commencement ceremony, they were going to miss it entirely. That’s when, spurred by Alcantara’s sense of humor, his relatives and strangers on the train held an impromptu “graduation” in the subway car.

“After 45 minutes, I knew I was already late, but I kept hoping that I’d at least make it to walking the stage,” Alcantara told local station WABC. “Everyone seemed annoyed, and by that time, my commencement was already about an hour in,” he said. “So I felt like lightening the mood and thanked everyone for ‘coming to my graduation.’ Told them it meant a lot to me, and they applauded it.”

Fellow subway rider Nadiya Afzal, captured the ceremony with her phone and uploaded it to Facebook on Tuesday afternoon. “Poor kid missed his graduation because of the train delay this morning … so we threw him a graduation on the train,” she wrote. Nearly 2 million people have viewed the clip so far.

As you can see in the video, Alcantara’s friends blasted Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” on a speaker and one presented him with a diploma that he’d made on his phone as passengers on the subway car looked on. “If you want a copy of my diploma, turn on your AirDrop,” Alcantara says to them in the clip. As frustrating as subway delays are, it’s heartwarming to see smiling riders offering their congratulations to him.

“I've witnessed a lot of things on the trains, but this was a very special moment,” Afzal told WABC. “It was just a nice moment, to see we all came together for him. He deserved it.”

Altogether the train delay lasted nearly three hours, Alcantara, who earned a nursing diploma from Hunter College, sees the silver living. “I think it ended up so much better than if I was on time,” he said. “I would have probably fell (sic) asleep if I was at commencement.”

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