For years, Sarai Ruiz crossed the Mexican border every day to go to classes at her high school in Laredo, Texas. A native of Wisconsin, she and her mother moved to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, a decade ago after her father was deported from the United States.

Last Friday, Ruiz gave him the memory of a lifetime. With her father unable to attend the ceremony, Ruiz met him on the border in her cap and gown after graduating from Hector J. Garcia Early College High School.

Dressed in a long scarlet robe, Ruiz broke down in tears as she embraced her father, who was waiting in a small alcove on a bridge that separates the two countries.

Ruiz shared the emotional scene on her Facebook page on Saturday, where it quickly went viral. Her post had over 70,000 likes as of Wednesday, and her video of the meeting has been viewed 2.6 million times.


“I tried so hard not to cry when we saluted our parents knowing that only my mom was there,” Ruiz wrote in her post. “I knew my father would never see me walk to get my diploma, but today I’d thought I’d surprise him by crossing the bridge so he could see me with my cap and gown.”

Ruiz, who is the first person in her family to graduate from high school, will attend the University of Texas at Austin this fall and plans to study psychology and government, the Laredo Morning Times reported.

Ruiz’s father was deported when she was four years old. “We decided to move to Nuevo Laredo, to be close to him," Ruiz told the paper. "That's why I cross every day to go to school."

This story was written by Jenny Che.