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Social media helps reunite Naval Academy, preschool graduates after photo goes viral

(Photo courtesy of Second Lieutenant Ashanti Curry)

A post on Facebook, shared thousands of times, helped to connect two recent graduates.

“I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since that day because it was so powerful and it meant so much in my heart that this little girl, that I used to be, is looking up to me,” said 2nd Lt. Ashanti Curry.

Curry was out to lunch with her family celebrating her recent graduation from the United States Naval Academy at the Greene Turtle in Annapolis. Five-year-old Bristol Hopkins, toting a ‘Congratulations!’ balloon, had just graduated pre-school.

“I said, ‘You know, it would be really fun to go over and say, ‘Hi,’ and, ‘Thank you,’” said Debra Hopkins, Bristol’s mom, of congratulating the recent US Naval Academy graduate. “She’s worked really hard to get where she’s at and she’s going to do amazing things. Bristol said, ‘Yeah! Let’s do it.’”

Bristol took it a step further, handing the Second Lieutenant her balloon.

“In the moment, I wanted to cry, but I was like no no no!’” said Curry, smiling. “I needed to hold it together.”

After a hug, a few snaps from the cameras, and a goodbye the two recent graduates went their separate ways. Days later, Curry took to Facebook on quest to find that young graduate.

“When a little girl sees a woman doing it and succeeding at it, that’s what really matters. So, I needed to find her because this relationship I want to continue,” Curry said.

Hours after she posted, the story traveled across states and ultimately made it in front of the right eyes.

“It seemed like all of a sudden, I got everyone who knew them!” Curry said. “I got the grandmother, I got a coworker of the mom…”

“My phone just started blowing up,” Hopkins said. “They sent me pictures of what she had posted and I could only really get midway through and I actually choked up.”

From Annapolis, Bristol sent a message back to the Second Lieutenant and all those who serve, singing “God Bless America” to our news cameras.

Second Lieutenant Curry says she plans to meet up with Bristol soon and wants to be a cheerleader and role model throughout Bristol’s life.

“I’m going to be that person that’s like—along with her mother and her family—that’s telling her she can do whatever,” Curry said.

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