DALLAS -- Cedrick Lee Ward, a brother to five sisters, marked a milestone in his life. The 28-year-old graduated with his associated degree from Mountain View College in Dallas.
"He really really wanted to be there. He really did, so for it to happen like that was so awesome," his sister Channing Ward said.
Despite chipping away at his associate's degree for the better part of eight years, Ward couldn't attend Wednesday's ceremony person, so the college brought the graduation to him.
Ward is a sergeant in the National Guard. His past year he was called to serve in the Middle East.
Ismael Aleman, the Veterans Affairs coordinator for the college, consulted with Ward at that time.
"My concern about, 'Okay, Is this going to work?' was immediately gone out the window because he was doing everything he could to keep up with school and, of course, being deployed," Aleman said.
Rather than postpone school, Ward continued classes and earned a degree, despite an eight-hour time difference. His family managed to set up a video on Skype Ward into Wednesday's graduation ceremony.
"I will forever be a student of education. I will always continue to learn and try to better myself," Ward said to his fellow student.
But what Ward didn't know is that his sisters would be accepting the diploma on his behalf.
"I knew he was on the brink of tears. I knew it, I knew it. He was emotional," Channing said.
"He's making it count. He's serving our country, and he's making things happen in his life, professionally and, of course, academically," Aleman said.
After receiving his diploma via Skype, Ward was asked to say a few words to his graduating class.
"To my fellow classmates -- raising families, working full-time jobs, going through hardships, I salute you kudos to you, I know the feeling all too well," Ward said.
He'll continue his tour of duty with an associate degree now under his belt. His family hopes to see him in person this July.