Long Journey For UB Graduates, Especially One

September 27, 2013 Updated May 9, 2010 at 11:19 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

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September 27, 2013 Updated May 9, 2010 at 11:19 PM EDT


It was the best gift ever.

"On Mother's Day, one of the most precious memories I'll have always," said Sonja Burgin who proudly watched her son receive his degree today.

UB's class of 2010 donned caps and gown on Mother's Day. Recent graduate Rodney Pierce says the hard work was all worth it, "It's definitely worth it, especially when you make your mom happy and on Mother's Day what better gift could you give your mother?"

Each student has their own story to tell about getting to the stage.

"I was the first one to be able to have a chance to graduated so it's nice to do that for my family and for myself," said John Kapitany.

"It was a great present! I'm very proud of him," said Kapitany's mother Diane.

But for Daniel Bishop, being able to walk on his own across the stage today was the biggest victory of all.

"I knew one way or another they were going to have to drag me across the stage or push me in a wheelchair, but I just set a goal that I was going to walk across on my own. I'm just lucky to be able to achieve that goal," said Bishop.

It's a goal doctors never thought would happen. In March, Bishop suffered a life-threatening spinal injury wrestling during a competition for UB. Doctors told him it would take at lease six months before he'd even be able to stand on his own.

Daniel reflects on graduation today and beating the odds, "It's really exciting! I've been looking forward to coming back to Buffalo since I got out of rehab."

And while his days on the mat might be behind him, "Those days might be over," said Bishop.

He won't be too far.

"I'm going to come back and help with the wrestling team. I might not be in there wrestling live with the guys but going over technique and helping out as much as I can," promised Bishop.