Video shows high school senior opening Duke University acceptance at mother’s gravesite

When high school senior Skylar Hughes received an email from Duke University, she intentionally waited 16 hours to check it. It was a status update on her application to the school, but Hughes didn’t want to open it at home – she wanted to take the email to her mother’s gravesite.

Hughes, a senior at Grayson High School in Loganville, Georgia, lost her mother unexpectedly in 2016, according to a GoFundMe created for her. She has been dancing at the Northeast Atlanta Ballet Company since she was three years old and has excelled in school, earning a 4.1 GPA.

In addition to teaching ballet, Hughes has dedicated herself to community service. She’s volunteered over 200 hours, focusing on mental health and Black Lives Matter initiatives.

She’s wanted to attended Duke since she was a child, and while her resume is impressive, Duke has a competitive acceptance rate. Hughes reminded her dad of this when they visited her mother’s grave earlier this month, laptop in hand.

Hughes wanted to open the email from the school with her dad at her mother’s grave, and she filmed the experience. “I’m at my mommy’s grave to open my status update from Duke, because I wanted her to be part of it,” Hughes says in the video, which she posted on YouTube. “And I’m freaking out.”

After taking a deep breath, Hughes opens the email and bursts into tears. “Daddy, I got in! Oh my God, I got in!” she says. Her dad, who knelt beside her at the gravesite, began crying as well. 

“I told you!” he tells his daughter.

In an interview with the Gwinnett Daily Post, Hughes reflected on the moment at her mother’s gravesite. 

“It was a dream come true,” she said. “I knew my mother wasn’t going to see me in my wedding dress and she wasn’t going to see me at homecoming or when I graduated eighth grade. She couldn’t come to my [ballet] performances or anything like that. It was really nice to be able to share a moment with her there.”

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