The coronavirus pandemic has led to the cancelation of many social events across the country.
Graduation ceremonies for students of different levels were among them.
However, one local family decided they would do what they could themselves in order to honor their son. Wade and Reetta Christopher decided to take to their front lawn in order to show their appreciation for all the hard work put in by their son Neal, who just graduated from medical school after putting in eight years of hard work.
“We got a 3-foot-by-6-foot sign made with a big picture of him and put some plants around it,” Reeta Christopher said. “We made some pictures and wanted to celebrate his accomplishment as best we could here in Alabama.”
Neal Christopher is a 1993 graduate of Athens High School. He initially went to college at the University of Mobile, where he earned a degree in religion.
“He wanted to be a minister, so he and his wife Summer went to California to plant a church,” Reetta Christopher said.
Reetta Christopher said her son Neal later went to North Carolina to attend seminary, which helped guide him into medicine. She said it was during his time leading a church congregation that he began counseling those who sought his advice.
“He felt like he could do more,” Reetta Christopher said. “He felt led to become a doctor. He had done some counseling with parishioners through the church, but he felt like he could give people more help if he was a doctor. So he put the two together so he could help people as much as he could.”
So Neal Christopher began preparing for medical school in his 30s. He was accepted into Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California, in 2012. He finally completed the long process to graduation this year.
“It has been a long road,” Reetta Christopher said. “It meant sacrificing a lot but accomplishing more. We are so proud of him.”
Since there was no graduation ceremony, the Christophers and Neal's mother-in-law, Helen Greenhaw, helped put together the celebration for Neal on the Christophers' lawn.
“We couldn't see him in person because they are in California, and I can't fly because of COVID-19,” Reetta Christopher said.
Neal Christopher is now a professional psychiatrist working at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in California. He and his wife Summer have three children together.
“Neal Christopher is a wonderful Christian young man,” Greenhaw said. “Neal is a very determined young man, always striving to be the best in whatever he is doing.”