Although there may just be one name on Debbie Ly's diploma, she knows that graduating was more than just her accomplishment.
On April 22, Ly became a first-generation college graduate from the University of Redlands in California.
In a touching tribute, Ly, whose parents left Southeast Asia to find "a better future," shed her graduation attire and dressed her parents in her stole and gown as a way to say thank you.
Ly's mother and father, who are from Laos and Vietnam, respectively, worked their entire lives, she said, and "sacrificed everything" to give her a life they never had.
- 3May 23, 2023
"Higher education has always been their top priority for me," she told Storyful.
Ly said she wanted to honor her parents on commencement weekend and acknowledge their "unwavering love and support."
She posted the emotional video to Instagram to express her gratitude.
"Thank you, Má and Ba, for your unwavering love and support, and for teaching me the value of hard work and determination," Ly wrote in the caption. "This is not just my graduation, it's ours."