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St. Ambrose student walks across graduation stage without her wheelchair, parents had no idea

MOLINE---St. Ambrose University held their graduation ceremony at the iWireless Center Saturday, May 13.

662 students were ready to walk across the graduation stage and no one was more excited than Gerene TeKippe.

“I was born with spina bifida….so part of my spine was exposed when I was born. Doctors had to close up my back and it lead to nerve damage paralysis,” says Gerene, a physiology major at St. Ambrose University. Although she still has limited use of her legs, she's had to rely on a wheelchair since the 8th grade.

TeKippe, a Des Moines native made the decision her senior year of college to walk across the stage to surprise her parents.

"I think I was just surprised the whole time," said her mother, Sherri TeKippe. "(My husband) looked at me and said "Did you know she was going to do that?" and I said, "No I didn't know that.""

"(My parents) taught me over the last years, if you want to do something you`ve got to figure out a way to get it done," says Gerene.

She plans to start a master's program at St. Ambrose University next fall.