For many individuals graduation is a special time to celebrate your accomplishments with your loved ones, especially your parents. But for Sequoia Smith, that unfortunately wasn’t a reality because both of her parents passed away, but instead of being sad she’s decided to celeberate her graduation by honoring her parents.

This 25-year-old took to Instagram to share her story with her followers, which has since gone viral. She also posed in her cap next to photos of her mom and dad.

According to Yahoo, her dad passed away from sickle cell anemia not long before her high school graduation. Her mom passed away two years later from cervical cancer, shortly after she got her associate’s degree.

“Seems like weeks, months even years passed by and it didn’t seem real that my parents were gone. Sometimes, it still doesn’t, ” Smith wrote. “I felt so numb and detached from the world.”

After losing both of her parents she admitted that she had “canceled the idea” of finsihing her educational journey. As she began to heal she knew that she wanted to finish.

She spoke to Yahoo Lifestyle and said, “I honestly didn’t anticipate for this to happen. I wanted my post to get to someone who has experienced what I have to enlighten them. … It just blew up. The amount of messages and comments I’m getting from so many incredible people is well worth me sharing.”

Sequoia will be receiving her bachelors degree in public health from Lamar University on May 11.

She admits that getting to this point wasn’t easy.

“Not having anyone to call or talk to at times. Having to work ridiculous hours to make sure I had bare necessities. Keeping a smile on my face to keep from crying,” Smith wrote.

She hopes her story inspires others to continue to strive for goals no matter the cirucmatsnaces, and encourages those in similar shoes as hers to find genuine people to connect with.

“Stay focused and pray every single day, even when things are going well. Surround yourself with people who will uplift you! People who will pray for you without knowing the demons you’re battling. You will need them & whether you know it or not, they will need you.”

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