Lifestyle & Human Interest

Teen Prays at Mother's Gravesite Before Opening College Acceptance Letter: 'I Knew She Would Be Proud of Me'


Since she was just 3 years old, Skylar Hughes has pursued dance with passion. She danced, she performed, she taught — but as the years passed, she maintained a stellar educational record, as well.

“Skylar maintains a 4.1 GPA, and received an astonishing score of 33 on her ACT exam,” the GoFundMe page set up for her by family says.

“She was also nominated for the 2020-2021 United States Presidential Scholar Award, and was an Anti-Defamation League ‘No Place for Hate’ Award recipient.”

She is quite an accomplished young lady, and for most of her childhood, she’s had her sights set on Duke University.

But when she was just 11 years old, she had to deal with deep tragedy. Her mother, Rasheda Hughes, who she calls her “biggest inspiration,” passed away following a brain aneurysm and a coma.

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“She was such a vibrant woman, and I get a lot of my qualities from her,” Skylar told WRAL-TV.

Over the years, Skylar has honored her mother and their bond by paying regular visits to her grave.

“I probably go there once every week or once every two weeks,” she said. “I bring lunch out there, and I just, like, catch her up to my life because I know she would want to be involved.”

So it makes sense that on the cusp of a potentially life-changing opportunity, Skylar would want to involve her mom.

On the evening of Dec. 18, the all-important email from admissions was in Skylar’s inbox. Instead of immediately opening the message and getting her answer, Skylar wanted to make the moment more memorable — and share it with someone who meant so much to her.

The next day, she and her dad James spread out a blanket next to her mother’s grave, set up the laptop and started with prayer.

“Before I opened it, me and my dad and my mom, we just all prayed,” Skylar said. “I felt like my nerves were heightened because I felt like she was nervous with me.

“I was nervous to open it, but I wasn’t really nervous to let her down because I knew she would be proud of me regardless,” she went on. “When I clicked the button and saw the blue streamers, I was like, hold on, did I just get in?

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“It was the best feeling in the world. I was so proud of myself. All my hard work and sacrifices paid off, and it just made me really happy.”

She shared video of the reveal on YouTube. When she realizes she was accepted, she says, “Mommy, I got in!” while her dad says, “I told you!”

“It was a dream come true,” she told the Gwinnett Daily Post. “I knew my mother wasn’t going to see me in my wedding dress and she wasn’t going to see me at homecoming or when I graduated eighth grade.

“She couldn’t come to my [ballet] performances or anything like that. It was really nice to be able to share a moment with her there.”

While Skylar is busy applying to scholarships and did receive a financial aid package, her family has set up a GoFundMe to try to help her acquire the rest of the funds needed to pursue her degree in marine biology at Duke.

As of Thursday, generous donors have given to the tune of $36,000. If her record is any indication of the future, she will certainly use the money well.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking