LaDyra Lyte, a Central Michigan University graduate, received an unforgettable surprise as she walked the stage at her commencement ceremony Saturday.
The 23-year-old Southfield native was moments away from being declared an official graduate when the university president unveiled a special letter from Lyte’s brother. LaDaryl Lyte has been deployed for nearly one year with the U.S. Army Reserve, Good Morning America reported. His sister couldn’t hold back the tears while the letter was read aloud on his behalf.
“I want you to tell my sister how proud I am, how gracious she is, how superlative she is, and I know that she is going to do amazing things in her life,” LaDaryl wrote. “She is one in a million with a special talent of knowing just how to move forward.”
The new grad was at center stage by the time her brother walked out from the packed auditorium behind her. The surprise on LaDyra’s face was priceless and the tears overflowed.
“For a moment I thought I’m dreaming,” LaDyra Lyte told GMA. “I just felt just really overwhelmed, in a good way.”
The incredulity comes from LaDaryl not being able to attend his sister’s graduation in 2017 due to basic training duties. But he made sure that LaDyra’s college graduation would unfold with a bang once he was approved for leave.
With the help of the school’s officials, LaDaryl was told he could be a part of the graduation.
“They had me show up to the graduation two hours early so they could hide me upstairs so my family wouldn’t see me,” he said. “The night before I couldn’t even sleep because I was nervous, so I was essentially up for like 36 hours to do this surprise.”
He continued: “I got, like, 10 feet away from my sister and I heard my family start screaming and then the whole crowd started screaming and clapping. After that it was kind of a blur because my adrenaline was rushing.”
LaDyra Lyte earned her degree in fashion merchandising and design. She aspires to attend graduate school and pursue her dreams of becoming a fashion designer.
Her designs were showcased on the graduation gown she wore. LaDayra intended to pay tribute to the lives of Black people taken at the hands of racial injustice. Names imprinted on her gown included Trayvon Martin and Breonna Taylor.
“I wanted to tribute every single Black or Brown individual that died too soon because of police brutality and I wanted them to walk across stage with me,” said LaDyra Lyte. “So graduation really wasn’t for just me. I wanted to make sure it was for every person in my community, to let them know that I see them too.”