‘Proudest Father On The Planet’ – Dad Celebrates Down Syndrome Daughter’s College Graduation

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By Anthony McLennan / Truth Theory

Jay Handlin’s tweet about his daughter Rachel, who has Down syndrome, graduating from CalArts, has gone viral with more than 200K likes and nearly 20K shares.

Earlier this month Rachel completed a Bachelor of Finer Arts degree in Photography and Media at the prestigious California Institute of the Arts, or CalArts as it’s better known.

Founded by Walt Disney, CalArts’ six schools offer degrees in visual, performing, media and literary arts.

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

In case you’re wondering about the ‘fight me’ bit at the end of the tweet, Jay explained what he meant:

“It’s an expression. Rhetorical. It means, essentially, ‘I dare you to challenge what I said.’ I intended to say it with humor, and I sincerely hope it is perceived that way.”

Jay also describes himself as a ‘Fierce father’ and a ‘Disability/ inclusion zealot’ on his Twitter profile.

An inspiration for others with Down syndrome

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around one in every 700 babies in the United States are born with Down syndrome.

Jay’s tweet was met with an outpouring of love from nearly everyone who read it.

There were also a number of parents with Down syndrome kids who thanked Rachel and Jay for inspiring them.

“Sure – I’ll fight you,” said Scott Bentley. “This is my 4 year old daughter, Isabelle. She too, has #DownSyndrome. Congratulations to your daughter and thank you both for paving the way so my daughter can have the same future.”

“Congratulations to Rachel and thank you for paving the way for individuals with Ds like my daughter, Mavis, who just turned 5. #advocateeducatecelebrate,” read a post by Tui Harned.

What’s next for Rachel?

According to Jay, his daughter plans to have an online photographic portfolio set up this summer. She also has ‘a couple of big projects underway’ that she is working on and is considering applying to a Master of Arts program.

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Image credit: Jay Handlin

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