Emotional video of woman with Down syndrome reading college acceptance letter goes viral

Posted April 10, 2016

LANSDALE, Pennsylvania — Getting into college is no small feat, and for one Pennsylvania woman with special needs, it was a dream she never thought would come true. Until it did.

When Rachel Grace watched her older brother go off to college, she knew it was something she wanted to experience too, according to Today. Grace — who has Down syndrome — graduated from high school in 2014, where she managed the girls’ basketball team for three years.

After walking with her class, Grace entered a post-12 work/study program and began researching college programs for people with special needs. She applied to four colleges, but one stood out to her parents — East Stroudsburg University.

“When you look at the ESU community and her high school, it felt the same,” Grace’s mom, Deb Grace, told Today. “This is a good fit because it feels really similar and accepting.”

So when ESU emailed Grace’s parents to inform them their daughter had been accepted, they were overjoyed. They decided that instead of just telling her, they’d have her open her own acceptance letter as a surprise.

Lucky for all of us, they had the camera rolling when she did.

“I got in! I’m going to college!” an incredulous Grace exclaims in the video.

ESU posted the moving video to its Facebook page, and it’s since been viewed more than 14 million times. Hundreds of ESU students have posted congratulatory messages directed at Grace, welcoming her into the community.

“I’m running out of adjectives to describe that moment,” Deb Grace said. “This is the result of an entire community just being really accepting and open and great with all kinds of people.”

Grace has even been invited to join a sorority at the university, where she’ll begin her studies in the fall. Her family told Today they’re incredibly grateful for this opportunity for Grace to gain independence and build a life for herself.

Grace’s mother told Today she still can’t believe how many people have taken interest in her daughter’s story.

“We did that so her grandparents, friends and our family could enjoy when she found out,” Deb Grace said. “I joke that if I knew how much it would be seen, I would’ve cleaned the dirty countertops!”

Jessica Ivins is a content manager for and contributor to the Motherhood Matters section.


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