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Sailor honored in private ceremony after missing graduation

LA JOLLA, Calif. -- A San Diego-based sailor who couldn't make his graduation from National University was honored in a ceremony of his own Tuesday.

Petty Officer Francis Oladipo was underway on USS Anchorage Saturday when the university held its commencement.

Oladipo, along with his parents who had flown 25 hours from Nigeria for the ceremony, were disappointed when they found out he wouldn't be able to attend.

So the Navy and National University decided to honor Oladipo so that he would be able to walk in a ceremony and receive his master's degree diploma.

The president of National University joined Oladipo's commanding officer and shipmates in honoring him. The sailor's wife, son, parents and brother, who is also a sailor, were also in attendance.

"It is so fantastic, you know we were so excited when we got the call yesterday. We were first disappointed for Francis that he didn’t make it to graduation but we said we can do something here for graduation. So we threw this party together and actually recreated the commencement ceremonies so that he could get his degree. And his parents being here from Nigeria which is so special and they’re leaving tomorrow so we thought we got to get it done now," said President National University, David Andrews PhD.

“They are making that sacrifice for us as a family so whatever we can do and whatever a partner like National University can do to help us facilitate a special day for a sailor we’re all in on that," said USS Anchorage Commanding Officer Captain Tom Workman.

Oladipo told FOX 5 he was shocked and delighted to see everyone and couldn't believe it actually happened.

"They said, 'they're trying to see if we can still make it,' but we couldn't, and I was so down like I'm just going to keep it to myself. However, this day came and I'm so excited right now. I'm so delighted."

Oladipo received his master's degree in public health. He plans to enter the Navy's officer's program and use the degree to help his fellow sailors.

“I’m so excited having my commanding officer to honor this event, so delightful. I’m grateful to him and also my family, my mom and dad being here also to witness, they’re going back to Nigeria tomorrow. And also have my shipmates who are like my family on the ship honoring this great event, it’s so awesome. I’m so excited that they were able to be make this day for me,” said USS Anchorage, US Navy Petty Officer Francis Oladipo.