Chinese family travels 6,000 miles for daughter's USC graduation as commencement canceled

Wendi Lu is one of thousands of students who have been looking forward to their college graduation for years. Now though

The 23-year-old from Beijing, China, has spent seven years working her way toward this milestone — USC class of 2024. 

Before USC, she went to high school in La Jolla, away from her family, for an American education. Then a curveball: her high school graduation was canceled because of COVID-19. 

At USC, Lu was a double major, public relations and psychology, with a minor in dramatic arts. She dreamed about the main commencement ceremony for a long time. But that, too, was canceled.

It started in April, when USC announced it would not allow valedictorian Asna Tabassum to deliver a speech at the commencement ceremony. The university claimed the move was due to safety concerns. Weeks later, the university also called off the main commencement ceremony in Alumni Park. 

The Lu family, though, made the 6,000-mile trip from Beijing. They wouldn't miss their daughter's big moment for the world.

"As a family member, we want to support her," said father Fung Lu. If she really wants to do something, especially in education… As a Chinese family we care a lot about education.

As a consolation, USC hosted a graduation party at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Wednesday night, a "Trojan Family Graduate Celebration" with drone shows, fireworks and more.

When asked if the family was disappointed to travel that far a distance just to have the commencement canceled, Fung Lu said "Not totally disappointed. But it's a pity."

But as Wendi modeled her cap and gown, the family decided to make the best of the circumstances. Their only child was graduating.

"I'm feeling very proud," Wendi Lu said. "I did come a long way."

"Nothing can stop us from this big, big moment," Hua Lu said.