The 2014 commencement at Westminster College had a surprise ending for the hundreds of students, faculty, and family members who gathered to see 223 students walk through the school's six columns into the real world.
At the end of the procession, senior Joe Garwood seized the moment and proposed to his longtime girlfriend Kayla Foust, to the delight of everyone attending the ceremony.
Garwood said he had been planning it for a year and a half.
"We've been together since high school," Garwood said. "We actually met at the ACT here in Fulton, it kind of hit off from there."
Garwood's family members said he and Kayla have been together ever since high school junior prom. Later in their high school careers, they both decided to attend Westminster College together.
"He told me he wouldn't do it until after graduation... I'm kind of speechless," Foust said.
Before the column ceremony took place, members of Garwood's fraternity said practically everyone knew Garwood would propose to his girlfriend, except for her.
Foust said she had no idea how everyone managed to keep the secret. "My best friend knew,and she hasn't talked to me all week. I didn't know what was going on. Obviously this is why she didn't talk to me!"
Garwood said it took a lot of work for the special moment to happen. "Very, very, very careful planning," Garwood said. "It took a lot of combined efforts to pull off such a feat, but it's done!"
Both sides of the new family said they couldn't be happier. Garwood's sister Lydia said she thinks they both made an excellent decision by choosing each other. Faust's sister Courtney Shiverdecker said she was elated to see Joe propose to her sibling.
"It was very exciting, because we always liked Joe. He's like a brother to me, so it's nice," Shiverdecker said.
Faust's father said he is happy for his daughter. "I didn't think he would do it today, but he did," he said.
Garwood's parents said they are proud of their son for his work during his course of studies at Westminster College. Garwood's mom said she thinks her son is well prepared to enter adulthood. "It's amazing, because he's such a mellow kid, a mellow man," she said. "He is just exuberant like this!"
Garwood and Faust both said it is a day they will never forget. Garwood is graduating with a Bachelor's degree in business administration, and Faust is graduating with an elementary education degree. They are in the process of purchasing a house in Holts Summit.
The couple credits Westminster College with providing a close community to conduct their studies in, one that helped lead to the outcome of Saturday's commencement ceremony.