It was a small gesture meant to make sure every graduate who crossed the stage of the Schollmeier Arena during Saturday’s commencement did so to applause – but it touched the heart of a Reddit user and thousands of others.
“I told him jokingly no one in the whole stadium was clapping more than him,” the user wrote.
The staff member smiled and then responded to the user.
“Hey man, lot of these kids ain’t got nobody to support them. I never had anyone to support me, so I’m gonna make sure all these kids got somebody to support them and what they’ve done, even if it’s just me,” he said.
He is Andrew Thomas, a retired Fort Worth city worker who works for Stadium People, an Irving-based event staffing firm that handles large events held at TCU.
Thomas has been working events at TCU for the past school year – including both winter and spring commencement ceremonies.
He said his motivation for this gesture came from his daughter.
“She said ‘Daddy make sure you clap for everybody because you never know what a kid has done to get to that point.'”Andrew Thomas
Thomas said his daughter, who graduated from Prarie View A&M with a communications degree in 2015, talked about classmates who did not have family support and were homeless during their college years. She told him about students who couch-surfed and lived out of their cars.
Thomas said he and his daughter would cook for the less fortunate students.
“She keeps me conscious that you never know what each kid did to get there to get to that point and they need to be congratulated for it,” Thomas said. “Most of the kids did it on their own, so I had to clap for them.
The Reddit post has received nearly 40,000 views in four days and is 96 percent upvoted.
“I’m up in the air because I didn’t know I was doing anything that was noticeable to anyone,” Thomas said. “The overall support that I’ve gotten from not only my family but every other people- everywhere I go it’s like I’m a celebrity, but I’m a nobody. I’m just enjoying the moment.”