Proud mom watches husband and son graduate college together

Father and son graduate from Huston-Tillotson University together.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Seeing a child graduate from college is a proud moment for any parent.

Saturday, a mother in the crowd at Huston-Tillotson University’s graduation ceremony was filled with double the excitement.

Alma Purcell watched her 47-year-old husband and her 21-year-old son walk across the stage. She says her son, Will, is the one who inspired his father, Billy, to return to school. Will earned a bachelor’s degree and his father earned as associate’s.

Purcell, the proud mom, is a stage four breast cancer survivor who has been battling the disease for the last seven years.

“Being here to see this day has been part of what’s kept me going for all of these years,” said Purcell.

There was even a time, during her cancer battle, she thought her son may not make it to his college graduation. Four years ago when he was 17-years-old, she says he was at Dell Children’s Medical Center fighting a mystery illness that attacked his immune system.

“We were afraid of losing him,” said Purcell. “He was hospitalized for so long that he missed the entire second semester of 12th grade, but still got accepted into college during this time.”

Will made a full recovery. She hopes their family’s story will bring comfort to anyone else who may be going through a trying time. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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