Little did Washington State University Global Campus student Chris Jose know that he would be celebrating commencement on May 6 with another milestone that very same morning: the birth of his first child.
“She wasn’t due for a couple more weeks, but she decided to come early,” said Jose, who received his Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences at the hybrid ceremony. “I guess she wanted to celebrate with us.”
Due to complications, Chris and his wife Kim checked into Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington on May 2, days before he was set to graduate. Over the course of the next four days, Kim would go through a long process of induced labor.
Finally, at 3:35 a.m. on the morning of commencement, Aaliyah-Iris Tabaquin Jose entered the world weighing seven pounds three ounces.
“We joked afterwards that she was waiting because she wanted to make a grand entrance on the day of graduation,” Chris said.
Only a few hours after the birth, Chris’ joy would be immortalized forever as he appeared live on screen at the Global Campus commencement ceremony to raucous applause. He was standing in a hospital room, proudly holding Aaliyah-Iris in his arms with a huge smile on his face. Kim, lying in the hospital bed next to him, held his diploma cover.
“The whole day was a rollercoaster of emotions. We were anxious, excited, happy, and nervous, but felt overwhelming support from our families and the staff at the hospital,” said Chris. “I was also very tired. But most of all, I was just excited to share that memory with my daughter when she is older.”
“She graduated with me at just a few hours old, and who can say that? It’s a very special thing.”
Jose is no stranger to medical situations. He’s a veteran of the U.S. Navy, where he worked as a Hospital Corpsman before leaving active duty in 2018. He later worked as a CT scan and MRI technician at a Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in Portland and currently does the same job at a private clinic.
After leaving the Navy, Jose opted to use his military education benefits to begin taking classes at WSU’s Vancouver campus. Later, he would transfer to WSU Global Campus, deciding that the flexibility of online learning was the best fit for his work and family obligations.
“Earning my degree online was a great process and experience. Being able to access classes from different locations made it possible for me to provide for my family and earn a degree at the same time,” said Jose. “The transition from brick and mortar was easy because of the guidance of the academic advisors, the veteran’s affairs office at Vancouver and Pullman, and the professors who really worked with me and my schedule.”
Now that Jose is a Coug alum, he plans to use his degree to advance his career in medical care and possibly open doors to other fields.
“I plan to use many of the skills I learned in my WSU courses to help with clinical coordination and promotion at my current job,” he said. “I also want to keep my options open as far as career paths in project management or administration. For me, it’s all about providing for my family.”
Jose is excited to start the next phase of his life as a father and a college graduate. He’s also grateful to those who supported him along the way.
“I want to thank and acknowledge my wife Kim for supporting me during my time at WSU, especially throughout her pregnancy,” he said. “I also want to thank my parents and my sister, who is also a WSU alum, for pushing me to continue school and see it through to graduation.”