Jerich Marco Alcantara just graduated from Hunter College with a degree in nursing. He was on his way to the nursing commencement ceremony on Tuesday when his train spontaneously broke down.
Alcantara was en route to the 10:00 a.m. ceremony with family and friends when the E train in New York City malfunctioned, and they were stuck underground for two hours.
He explained to BuzzFeed News that he didn't attend the general graduation because he couldn't get enough guest tickets for everyone who wanted to attend, so this was the only graduation he'd be able to make.
Alcantara said the MTA eventually moved everyone to a "rescue train," which also became massively delayed for signal problems. At this point he knew he was "missing the commencement completely," he said.
A 26-year-old NYC native named Nadiya Afzal was also riding the hellishly delayed E train at the time, just trying to get to work. She told BuzzFeed News she noticed Alcantara in his graduation gown and eventually heard him say aloud that he was missing his graduation.
Alcantara, his friends, and everyone else in his train car decided they would hold a mock graduation for him. "We all clapped and cheered for him," she said. And then she started recording.
This was the "diploma," that one of Alcantara's friends quickly drew on his phone. "Certificate of good job," it read. "Yu r a nurse now maybe." Much prestige, very accomplish!
Apparently, he and his crew didn't arrive at the graduation venue until 11:45am. The staff there helped him retrieve his graduation pin, and generally felt pretty sorry for him.
Alcantara is bummed about missing his graduation, but he said the random subway event made him feel "really special." Afzal said it's reminded her that "New Yorkers are such a collaborative and warm bunch of people."
"The train graduation was really fun and made me feel really special even though the train was filled with strangers," Alcantara said. "Everyone was extremely kind and positive."
"I'm proud to call myself a native New Yorker," Afzal concluded.