Loida Guillén Strong ’20DNP has always been inspired by her mother, Mercedes.

Mercedes, grew up in the Dominican Republic and wanted to be a doctor.

But right after Mercedes began medical school, her father died, and she had to abruptly drop out and give up her dream to help take care of her siblings.

Later, as a parent herself, Mercedes moved 8-year-old Loida and her siblings to the United States.

Loida gave her mother an incredible surprise over the weekend.

On Saturday, Aug. 1, Loida graduated from UCF with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree — and her mother had no idea.

Under a ruse, Loida’s husband drove Mercedes to UCF’s College of Nursing where Loida was waiting, in cap and gown, to break the surprise to her mom.

She chose to disclose the surprise at the College of Nursing, where Loida has spent so much of the last three years, and where she’s been able to finish what her mother started so many years ago.