One mom’s sigh of relief when she finished her dissertation defense quickly turned into a moment of shock thanks to a sweet surprise from her three kids.
Candace Hall, 31, spent 30 minutes last week defending her dissertation as she works toward her doctorate in higher education from Maryville University near St. Louis, Missouri.
When she walked out of the pressure-filled room on Sept. 17, she saw her three kids, ages 7, 6 and 4, lined up and ready to dance.
Hall’s children performed a choreographed dance – flossing included -- to the song “We Did It” by 1K Phew.
After dancing along to lyrics like “We did it … yeah I knew we could .. yeah, thank God we did it,” the siblings held up handmade signs congratulating their mom.
“I was shocked. I was happy. I was proud,” said Hall, who for the past two years has been going to graduate school at night while working full-time as an academic program coordinator at Washington University in St. Louis. "I was proud of myself too because there were some nights where I was like I don't know how this is going to work."
Hall's best friend, and the children's godmother, orchestrated the surprise, keeping them at her house for a few hours one day so they could make the signs and learn the dance.
"We spent like a day drawing on the [signs] and we did the dance one more time after drawing them [to practice]," said Edwyn, Hall's oldest child. "I was proud of my mom for doing this."
Hall, who will graduate in May, said she has made it through the past two years of being a student, mom and employee thanks to help from her husband and her mother-in-law, whom she calls her "mother-in-love."
"None of this is possible without them supporting the family and supporting me in the way that they did," said Hall.
She also accomplished it by using her "me time" at night to study and including her kids in her educational journey.
"She always does her homework at the dining room table, at the end [seat]," Edwyn said of his mom. "I sit next to her."
Hall said she heard people say many times that she was "crazy" for going back to school while working full-time and being a mom to three young kids.
She wants her kids to remember that she earned her doctorate anyway.
"I hope my kids take away that they can do anything that they set their minds to. I know people say that all the time to kids growing up, but I hope that I’ve demonstrated that," she said. "I hope they’re not afraid to go after their dreams no matter what people say to them."