It's not out of the normal for friends and family to cheer loudly when you're walking across the stage at graduation but this time was special.
Amaya Linsey walked across the stage of Thompson-Boling Arena Friday and her family's section roared. Nearly two dozen of them had traveled from Memphis, Linsey's hometown, to be there for her graduation.
She expected to see them... or hear them – but didn't expect to see her brother.
Airman First Class Jerald Linsey was on the other side of the stage to greet her with open arms after she got her diploma. He's home on leave from his Air Force assignment in North Dakota.
The crowd went wild and the pair embraced each other for a long, tight hug.
Linsey, who received a bachelor’s degree in retail and consumer science with a minor in business, is only the second person in her family to earn a college degree.
The university said she has made the most of every moment on campus, excelling in academics while becoming an active member of the UT community.
Linsey served as president of the National Retail Federation Student Association, worked as an office assistant in the Department of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management, and was involved with the Multicultural Mentoring Program, Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity, and NAACP.
She is also a Dean’s List Scholar and ME4UT Scholar.
After graduation, Amaya Linsey will move home to Memphis and spend much of the spring traveling before looking for a career in fashion retailing.
For now, she’s just excited to have the chance to spend some time with her brother before he has to return to the base in North Dakota.