Local police officer receives his very own graduation ceremony - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Local police officer receives his very own graduation ceremony

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KENNEWICK, WA - A West Richland police officer who just graduated with a Master's degree in Criminology received the surprise of a lifetime this weekend: his very own commencement ceremony.

Reporter Rex Carlin was at Kennewick High School Friday evening for the graduation, where West Richland police officer Edwardo Magana took the long road to graduation day, both metaphorically and literally.

"He started from the lowest math classes, the lowest reading classes and writing classes," said Edwardo's wife, Margarita Magana.

He worked his way up from those classes at Columbia Basin College - the classes that don't even count towards a degree - to Washington State University, where he earned his Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice. 

Then on December 10th in Arizona, Edwardo, his wife, and their 1-year-old daughter Emma were visiting friends in Tucson a couple days before Edwardo was supposed to walk across the stage at Arizona State University to receive his Master's degree in Criminology. 

The commencement ceremony was a long time coming for Edwardo, but it would have to wait.

"I wanted to take pictures with my child at graduation, so it was a little disappointing," said Edwardo. "But after I found out she was sick and she was in the hospital, that kind of went away and I just started worrying about her."

Emma Magana was born with congenital diaphragmatic hernia, or CDH...a disease that can have a wide range of outcomes. But for Emma, it meant a two-month stay in the hospital, a feeding tube, and oxygen support, which she was finally able to get off of in May.

Then this past December when Emma had to be rushed to the hospital in Tucson, she was diagnosed with a virus that prevented the Magana family from attending Edwardo's graduation ceremony. But missing the actual ceremony didn't mean Edwardo wouldn't get to walk across the stage, not if Margarita had a say in it.

"I was like, 'ugh, he's going to miss his graduation.' I was like 'that's not fair'," Margarita said. "So I tried to brainstorm how I could get him to walk, and the best option was to try to see if they would let me use the auditorium here at Kennewick High."

And there he was on Friday night in the Kennewick High School auditorium in front of dozens of friends and family, attending his own surprise graduation organized by Margarita, who teaches at the school and got Edwardo there by telling him her car wouldn't start.

"I thought that I was going to have to jump start a car, and then I walked into an auditorium full of people," Edwardo said. "So it's awesome."

Memories were shared, photos were taken, and Edwardo was given a diploma printed off of the internet because his real one hadn't come in the mail yet.

For Edwardo Magana, pursuing your goals is something he says he can pass down to his daughter.

"It was really important for me," said Edwardo. "I felt like now that we have a child too, it was something that I always wanted to do is show her that everything is possible and anything if you really put your mind to it."

But as it turns out, 1-year-old Emma is setting an example for her father as well.

"She's already overcome so much with her health issues and stuff like that, so I could only see her making it big," Edwardo said.

A long road has been overcome, leading to a bright future for both of them.