Fresno woman fulfills dying father's dream to see her graduate

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Suffering from acute respiratory failure, Coreeliza Tayong's 79-year-old father will soon face death. (KFSN)

At Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, a 79-year-old father is on his deathbed. He has just one wish, to see his daughter graduate. So, dozens of people brought the convocation to him.

For some students, graduation can't come soon enough, but Coreeliza Tayong didn't expect it this soon.

"At first, they told me my dad had about six months to live and then they had said maybe next week," she said.

Suffering from acute respiratory failure, her father Virgilio Tayong will soon die.

"He says that every day, 'When she graduates, my work will be complete,'" Dr. John Gasman said. "I think everyone recognizes he's going to have a hard time making it to that."

When Tayong graduates in May she'll be the first doctor in her family. Her father's one dying wish is to witness the turning of her tassel.

"He just couldn't breathe anymore," Coreeliza said. "He told me, 'God, I'm not ready to go yet. My youngest still needs to graduate.'"

So, while the ceremony is ahead of schedule, for Virgilio, this surprise is right on time.

"Papa, The school found out you were sick," Coreeliza told her dad. "So, they wanted to bring the graduation to you."

"We're supposed to give her the diploma, but she hasn't graduated yet. This is supposed to be for Cory, and we're going to give it to you instead okay?" a representative with the school told Virgilio.

"Call me Dr. Tayong, my accomplishments are your accomplishments papa," she told her dad.

"I'm in heaven now," Virgilio said.

"You're still with us," Coreeliza said. "You're very much alive, papa."

"He is the most selfless person I know, and you could tell by all the people who are here today that he is loved, and I just wanted him to feel loved," his daughter said.

It's a commencement speech this honorary graduate will never forget.

"My mission is accomplished," Coreeliza told her dad. "My mission is accomplished, daddy."

Tayong is going to take some time off to spend time with her father. But still, she plans on graduating from Marshall B. Ketchum University in mid-May with a doctorate in optometry.
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