The New York subway routinely ruins people’s day with brake issues, signal problems, and general inefficiencies. People are delayed to work no matter how early they get on the train, and this is what happened to Jerich Alcantara. But he’s wasn’t going to work; he was heading to his graduation ceremony at Hunter College’s Brookdale Campus. The E train was badly delayed that he missed his own graduation ceremony.
“I was on track to be at my commencement at 9:15 a.m., but the delays altogether ended up taking almost three hours,” Alcantara said. “After 45 minutes, I knew I was already late, but I kept hoping that I’d at least make it to walking the stage.”
“The train’s emergency brakes went off and they couldn’t fix it for an hour and a half,” he explained on how he got on another train that’ll take him to Manhattan. “So after that, they called rescue trains to pick us up and those didn’t show up for another 20 or 30 minutes.”
Everyone on the train was upset until Alcantara, dressed in his purple cap and gown, jokingly thanked his fellow passengers for attending his graduation.
“I announced to the whole train I said ‘Hey guy thanks for coming out today to see me walk and graduate,'” he said recalling how he had addressed the frustrated crowd.
“It wasn’t so much an idea, but something that just happened,” he explained. “Everyone was getting antsy and impatient, so I figured I’d lighten the mood by thanking everyone for coming out. That led to applause, and the rest just followed.”
His family and friends turned the unfortunate moment into a makeshift graduation ceremony with all the strangers on the train as the audience.
“We got my buddy to hand me the diploma that he drew up on his phone and he handed it to me shook my hand like he was the Dean, it was great,” Alcantara recounted.
A passenger on the train played Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” through a portable speaker in his backpack while Alcantara’s friend presented him the DIY diploma.
Some people recorded the whole thing and it seems more fun than the traditional ceremony he missed.
When Alcantara and his family arrived at the venue, the ceremony was long over. They “rushed to the commencement to see if we could make it in time, but saw a bunch of people in gowns on the streets.” He didn’t make it but he still got to experience a graduation ceremony on the train. And he actually had two graduation ceremonies. A few of his classmates and close friends from the nursing program instructed him to meet them in the auditorium.
“So I missed the commencement, but after the auditorium cleared out, my close friends threw me my own little graduation,” he said. “And they played some music for me there as well. They had me walk down the center aisle, walk across the stage just as if I was doing graduation with them.”
And for his diploma? The president of Hunter College expressed that she is looking forward to handing it to Alcantara personally.