University of Hartford

East Hampton Neighborhood Helps Graduate Celebrate Her Accomplishment

NBC Universal, Inc.

Unusual times call for unusual celebrations, and an East Hampton neighborhood made sure a recent college graduate got the recognition she deserves.

It probably wasn’t the pomp and circumstance a graduate dreams of, but for Mara Owens, it’s still a really great day – even in a 2016 cap and gown.

“This is my high school cap and gown because I didn’t get one from my college. But it’s coming. It’s coming. And I’m going to take pictures in it,” said Owens.

On a quiet street in East Hampton, her brother took the seat behind the wheel of a decorated truck. Her parents walked with her, and her entire neighborhood went outside to celebrate her.

“I love my neighborhood. I love them. They’re so amazing. The fact they did this just shows that,” said Owens.

Owens earned her degree at the University of Hartford with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering. Knowing she worked so hard, her neighbors made plans and signs. And on Friday they cheered her on as she walked, not across the stage, but down the street.

“It was really cool. I thought it was something cool that we could do for her,” said neighbor Bethany Doscher.

At every decorated mailbox, a present waited to be picked up by Owens. The parade made for a pretty exciting day for younger neighbors too.

“I like making the signs and balloons and putting up everything,” said neighbor Carolyn Frances Barry.

“It was really fun making it and blowing up all the balloons,” said neighbor Julia Barry.

For Owen’s family, it was a chance to celebrate her accomplishments with everyone in this much more isolated world.

“It’s a monumental event for my daughter, so I’m glad they’re sharing it with her,” said Owen’s dad, Greg Voelker.

“We’re so proud of her. We’re both engineers. We know how hard it was for her, and to just see her graduate, even like this, we’re so proud of her,” said Owen’s mom, Christine Voelker.

And this graduate will take all the good wishes with her as she embarks on her next chapter.

“This is definitely going to be memorable. I’m sure I’m not going to forget this,” said Owens.

“I’m glad we could make her graduation as special as it was for her,” said Owen’s younger brother, Cody Voelker.

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