CLEMSON, SC (FOX Carolina) - A military veteran and his daughter both walked across the graduation stage on Friday for Clemson University's August commencement.
Studying online from Afghanistan and Kuwait where he worked for defense contractors paid off for Eddie Railey, of Chester, on Friday as he earned his Master of Engineering from the university.
His degree came at the right time as his daughter Reagan Railey received her Bachelor of Science in biological sciences with a minor in psychology on Friday, too. Though they did not get to sit together for the ceremony as they were in different colleges, they both proudly wore their Class of '14 Clemson rings.
"I'm excited to share that with him," Reagan Railey said in a release from the college. "He's an inspiration to me. He's a self-made man."
Her father retired from the National Guard in 2008, going on to work as a consultant in Washington D.C.
While he was working toward his degree, Eddie Railey said, "There were many nights I was studying engineering from Clemson and you would hear the sirens go off."
"You've got incoming mortars," he continued in the release. "With a military background, you're kind of used to it."
And while he studied and traveled for work, Eddie Railey said he took his Clemson rag with him everyone.
"We started the industrial engineering master's program with people like Eddie in mind," said Bill Ferrell, an industrial engineering professor and associate dean of the graduate school. "He has one of those inspirational stories that makes you think, ‘if he can study in a war zone, what's stopping me from going back to school?'"
The university said the Raileys joked that Eddie will have to get another degree from Clemson when their younger daughter goes to college in a few years.
"We're diehard Clemson fans," he said. "It was almost like a dream come true to have a degree from Clemson. Not only that, the icing on the cake is to be able to graduate with my daughter at the same time."
More than 1,000 students received degrees during Friday's commencement.