First-Generation Graduate Thanks Mother by Dressing Her in Cap and Gown at Harvard Ceremony

A first-generation college graduate dressed her mother in her graduation gown as a thank you for all her sacrifices after she crossed the Harvard stage in Massachusetts on May 25.

Nataly Morales Villa became the first in her family to earn a Master’s degree after graduating with a diploma in Education Administration from Harvard University.

“While we were taking my graduation pictures I was reflecting on how my being able to wear [the] master’s graduation regalia and graduate was a result of all my mom’s sacrifices,” she told Storyful.

Morales Villa grew up in El Mezquital, Durango, México. When she was 5 years old, she said her mother immigrated to the U.S. to give her the chance of a better future. “Growing up in extreme poverty in a misogynist society prevented my mother from obtaining an education beyond the equivalent of middle school in Mexico” she said in a post on her Instagram account.

In the video, filmed by Morales Villa’s aunt, she can be seen taking off her gown and placing it on her mother’s shoulders. She told Storyful that the moment was not planned and that she simply asked her mother to “come over” after she was finished getting her photo taken.

“I started placing my graduation attire on my mom and told my aunt to record the moment for us to remember” Morales Villa said, adding that doing so made her mother smile.

She uploaded the footage to her Instagram account with the caption “¡Nos graduamos de Harvard mamá!” [we graduated from Harvard, mom] and explained that their journey to Harvard included “surviving alcoholism, domestic abuse, and residing in the country as undocumented immigrants until my 11th birthday.”

Morales Villa told Storyful that she now planned to obtain a Ph.D. She added on Instagram that her aunt could be heard in the footage saying the Morales Villa surnames made it to Harvard. Credit: Nataly Morales Villa via Storyful

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting