graduating class
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
June 6, 2024 ·  2 min read

Proud dad celebrates daughter with Down syndrome who just graduated from college – congratulations

Every parent is proud when their child graduates from post-secondary education. When his daughter with down syndrome graduated from college, however, this father was over the moon. The photo he posted to share the good news went viral on Twitter with hundreds of thousands of people connecting with his story. (1)

Proud Father of Daughter With Down Syndrome Goes Viral

Jay Handlin’s daughter Rachel is one of the millions of students around the world who were unable to truly celebrate their post-secondary graduation because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Handlin wouldn’t allow that to stop him from expressing the pride he felt. His daughter with down syndrome graduated from college.

He posted this beautiful photo of Rachel on his Twitter account. The caption reads:

“This is my daughter, Rachel Handlin. Tonight, she earned her full Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography & Media from the prestigious California Institute of the Arts, @CalArts⁩. Rachel has #Downsyndrome.
I am officially the proudest father on the planet.
Fight me.”

Image Credit: Jay Handlin / Twitter

This isn’t the first time Handlin has expressed how impressed and proud he is of his CalArts student daughter on his Twitter feed. He posted another photo of her at work back in 2017 when she was still a junior. The caption on this one is:

#CalArts junior #RachelHandlin working on her mid-residency project.
#Paris #filmphotography #Downsyndrome #nolimits(2)

Image Credit: Jay Handlin / Twitter

Handlin has also posted several update photos of Rachel’s exhibitions where she was able to show off her photography prowess.

If none of those strike you as consistent w/ #Downsyndrome, maybe it’s time to open your mind.
@CalArts BFA3 #RachelHandlin w/ “Rue Visconti” collage from exhibition “Jumping Off Le Pont Neuf.”) @RubysRainboworg @queenswash @BlueApplePlays(3)

Image Credit: Jay Handlin / Twitter

A Massive Accomplishment

Of course, no matter who you are, graduating from college is a huge accomplishment. It represents countless hours of hard work and dedication over the span of several years. Rachel, however, had more to overcome than the average student.

Growing up, Rachel and her parents worked with the Pediatric Therapy Network, an organization that helps children with developmental disorders achieve their full potential. They do this using therapy, education, and research programs. (4)

They, too, were proud of Rachel, and shared this on their Twitter feed:

“In the global Down syndrome population, college degree recipients are one in a million. Today, former PTN client Rachel Handlin will earn her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in photography and media from the California Institute of the Arts! We couldn’t be more proud of her!” (5)

Image Credit: Pediatric Therapy Network / Twitter

Rachel is a beautiful example that with support and love, anything is possible. Not only is Rachel an inspiration to thousands, especially those within the Down Syndrome community, but her father, too, is an example of how important parental support is for your children.

Congratulations Rachel and the rest of the Handlin family!

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  4. Pediatric Therapy Network
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