That reaction wasn’t typical for her.
Angela Robertson Silver, a 44-year-old accountant who graduated from Johnson C. Smith University this past weekend, says she’s so shy that she still covers her face when she talks.
But on Sunday, her thankfulness couldn’t be contained as she received her diploma.
In a video posted to the university’s Facebook page, Silver is shown walking up to the stage.
She remembers her first name being announced, but nothing after that.
The video, though, captures it.
It's been viewed more than 135,000 times. One commenter wrote: "Lord. I don't know her story, but that joy is pouring out of her..
For almost 30 seconds, Silver dances across the stage. She stamps the floor. There are shouts — "YES! YES!" — from the crowd. She raises her arms over her head, in a triumphant "V," and brings them back down to clap. See accepts her diploma, then spins in a circle, graduation cords clasped in one hand, her face full of joy.
After 26 years, the birth of three children, a near-death experience and a life-changing move, she had her degree.
Silver is the first in her family to graduate college. Her grandparents could not read or write, but made sure that she could. In the fifth grade, a teacher told her she would never be more than mediocre, she remembers. She gave birth to her daughter, now 28, when she was a teenager.
As a single mother, she attempted to complete a bachelor’s degree at LeMoyne-Owen College and the University of Memphis — but when she had to make the choice between going to school and working to support her family, work always won.
She received an associate’s degree in General Technology from Southwest Tennessee Community College and for most of her adult life worked as a self-taught accountant in Memphis. She married in June 2014.
Six months later, she was hospitalized for massive blood clots in her lungs and legs. A doctor told her she might have died if she hadn't come to the emergency room.
The next year, she and her husband moved to Charlotte, where Silver decided to go back to school.
She said she received a warm welcome from Johnson C. Smith and support from the school's Metropolitan College, which helps nontraditional students manage work, family and academics.
For multiple semesters, she split her work day around day, night and online classes. She maintained a 4.0 GPA until her final semester, when she joined Delta Sigma Theta Inc. and says she earned her first and only B.
Her faith in Jesus kept her going, she says. She decorated her graduation cap with words reflecting her priorities: faith first, then family, then sisterhood.
Silver plans to pay off her student loans and eventually return for an MBA, possibly a PhD. She's proud, she says, that she's inspired her children.
“I grew up with them, because I was a teenage parent,” she said. “And now, they get to see me as an adult, growing, thriving and achieving goals... Being a first-generation college student for my family, I know the trajectory of my family has changed forever.”
Silver was also an inspiration to her younger classmates.
Dajia Watson, who graduated with a degree in business management alongside Silver on Sunday, said that "Miss Angela" was the "mom" of her class — someone you could always rely on for notes, or a flash drive, or words of encouragement. Gooding said that Silver gave every one of her classmates in a tax class handwritten thank you cards at the end of the semester. Silver wrote: Pursue your dreams. And remember that it's never too late to accomplish your goals.
"I was just extremely proud of her," Watson said of Silver's graduation.
Just a few people behind Silver in line to receive her diploma, Watson watched her classmate's reaction.
"It gave me tears," she said. "It gave me chills."