Graduating college is no small feat. It’s a culmination of all those long hours spent studying in the library, writing research papers, preparing for nerve-wracking presentations and dominating beer pong. It’s a huge milestone — especially for first-generation students.

For many immigrant families, having their children get a college education is high on the milestones list. Especially after leaving their country behind to give their children a shot at opportunities they never had.

For Jordy Nuñez, it wasn’t enough to graduate. He wanted to surprise his mom by being the student commencement speaker of his graduating class at Villanova University. Go Wildcats!

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Nuñez wanted to surprise his mom at his college graduation

In a heartfelt TikTok post gone viral, Nuñez’s brother, Jose, takes us through graduation day. Snapping photos with the family and ushering them into the VIP section, his mother shows suspicion. The rest of the family is in on it. They knew that Nuñez was about to take center stage at the podium.

However, it’s not until Nuñez’s mom sees him walking to the stage in full regalia she realizes the trick played on her. Of course, like any proud mamá would do, she tears up, suddenly in awe of her son’s achievement.

@swayinthevening

@flacko had some tricks up his sleeve for his graduation – 🤝🏽 #grad #villanova #commencement #commencementspeech #fyp #dominican

♬ original sound – Diggs

A heartfelt surprise that resonated with the crowd

In his speech, Nuñez explains, “A few months ago, I had told [my mom] I was doing a contest to be this year’s student commencement speaker.” He continues, “From the beginning, she was super supportive, but after I found out I had won, I told her I had lost so that this moment could be a surprise for her.”

@jordynunezz

Replying to @Veronizzle Full speech with minor edits to fit allowed length. Thank you ma’, my family, and all of Villanova U. This was the greatest honor 🙏🏽 #fyp #graduation #speech #comencement

♬ original sound – jordy


He gets a little choked up when he thanks his mom for always believing in him and we’re right there with him. “She’s 100% crying right now, I can see it,” he says, pointing at her from behind the podium. We only wish there was a camera pan for the audience to capture his mom’s reaction.

Then, the now college graduate, jokes, “Consider this to be my Mother’s Day gift since we couldn’t spend it together.” He added that both of his parents were born in the Dominican Republic to roaring applause.He notes the moment as a “shoutout” to “la patria.”

Nuñez admits that college wasn’t always “in the cards” for him

In his speech, he admits he never imagined standing at that podium. Turns out he used to struggle a lot in school. He mentioned he particularly struggled with timetable speed tests (we can relate — why were those so hard?!)

“[My family and I] were certain that college probably wasn’t in the cards for me,” he confessed. “But, against all odds, here I am today, standing in Villanova Blue and White, about to receive a diploma from one of the world’s most prestigious universities.”

“Obtaining a bachelor’s degree is something that is not very common in the U.S., especially for first-generation Latin American students. Therefore, saying a few words to my Villanova peers on such a momentous day for us was incredibly special,” he told mitú.

Adding, “Acquiring an engineering degree has been something my family really wanted to see me accomplish for many years. To see me physically receive that degree on May 19th has made us all very proud of where our family has come during our short time in this country. The speech was just a cherry on top for what we stand for.”

One step closer to the American Dream

As a first-generation college student, Nuñez exemplifies the American dream. His achievement proved in spades that his parents’ sacrifice was absolutely worth it.

In an emotional Instagram post, he wrote, “To my parents who immigrated to this country at about the same age I am right now, with nothing. Thank you for this beautiful life you have gifted me. All I have accomplished could not even be imagined without your help.”

In the comments section of his social media posts, family, friends, and even strangers were congratulating Nuñez, with one user saying “love to see my latinos win.” Another user commented, “TEARS!! Incredible job. Delivered with humor, inspiration, and honor.”

The best comment, however, came from Nuñez’s mom, Yojayra, who wrote, “The best mother’s day gift- the best surprise I’ve received in my life- I LOVE YOU!”