When a young New Yorker missed his Hunter College graduation Tuesday because of subway problems, a few resourceful straphangers stepped in with a makeshift ceremony.
Jericho Marco Alcantara was on his way to Hunter College's Brookdale campus, eager to receive his degree from the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, when his E train stopped between stations in Queens, according to multiple reports.
Alcantara had had the opportunity to go to the main commencement ceremony later in the afternoon at Radio City Music Hall, but told New York Magazine students were only permitted two tickets — and he wanted more of his friends and family there for his special day.
Alcantara told News 4 that he and his friend Bobby Rahman left from Jackson Heights at 8:30 a.m. to make sure they'd get to the East 25th Street campus by 10 a.m.
"Our train got delayed before it even reached its first stop," Alcantara said.
The train had stalled — multiple reports say passengers were told someone pulled the emergency brake.
"We were transferred to a rescue train, and that one got delayed, people got upset," Alcantara said.
It turned into an hours-long delay, they said.
"I was on track to be at my commencement at 9:15 a.m., but the delays altogether ended up taking almost three hours,” Alcantara told New York Magazine. "After 45 minutes, I knew I was already late, but I kept hoping that I’d at least make it to walking the stage."
He didn't. But he was wearing his cap and gown, and strangers stepped up to make sure he got his special moment. A friend gave him a virtual "diploma," drawing one on his cellphone. It read: "Certificate of a good job. You're a nurse now, maybe."
Someone on the train pulled out speakers and queued up some nostalgic music.
"That's when we started doing the handing the diploma. I like shoot his hand and everything, and took a picture of him with his diploma," Rahman said.
"I said, 'Thank you all for coming, I really appreciate you all coming out, it means so much to me," Alcantara said. "They all gave me an applause for it."
Another rider, Nadiya Afzal, videotaped the ceremony and posted it to Facebook, where it immediately went viral.
The video shows Alcantara going around hugging people as most people in his car join in the fun, despite being stuck on the train for so long. It had more than 1 million views and nearly 7,900 shares in 21 hours.