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Watch ‘Come From Away’ star Emily Walton’s reaction to being surprised on stage with her SNHU college diploma

"I am so appreciative to be the recipient of so much generosity and kindness and love."

In 2020, Broadway came to a standstill. Actors, technical crew, directors, and ushers alike were forced to find something to fill their days away from the bright lights and cheering audience.

For Emily Walton, she chose to use her time to further her education at Southern New Hampshire University. Walton went back to school and finished her degree in psychology, Playbill reports.

Walton received her diploma and an impromptu graduation ceremony complete with cap and gown following a performance Friday.

While standing on-stage alongside the cast and crew of the musical, Walton begins to cry when as the realization dawns on her, and SNHU President and CEO Paul J. LeBlanc walks on stage.

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Walton plays Janice and others in the acclaimed musical about the true story and lives of 7,000 stranded air passengers as their plane was grounded in Newfoundland following the events of September 11, 2001. 

Siobhan Lopez, assistant director of media relations at South New Hampshire University, tweeted a video of Walton’s tearful reaction to her on-stage graduation ceremony.

“You might have noticed we’ve been apart for about a year and a half, and we’ve missed a lot of special events in our family, and tonight, we want to share a very special event with you,” said Watson’s costar Joel Hatch. Watson’s costars also began to weep alongside her as they celebrated her accomplishment.

Watson reacted on her Twitter account the following day.

“Being a part of ‘Come From Away’ has brought so many gifts to my life,” she said. “And I really, really think it’s actually made me a better person to being apart of this show.”

Watson joined “Come From Away” in 2019 and was a cast member for the performance that was filmed and released on AppleTV+. She returned to the roll in September 2021.

“Being kind is so easy,” she said. “Celebrating each other’s accomplishments and joys is so rewarding. I am so appreciative to be the recipient of so much generosity and kindness and love…Thank you and I hope watching that video makes you all feel really good because it made me feel so good. And I know if I saw it happening to someone else it would make me feel good too.”

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