Graduating senior gets surprise visit from sister she hadn't seen in 2 years

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Graduation season is in full swing and one Franklin Central senior got a present Thursday she never saw coming - a visit from her big sister who she hasn't seen in two years because her sister is in the United States Air Force and has been stationed across the country in Nevada.

Alyssa Immel, 17, wants to be an elementary school teacher and work with kids who need special education services. She will attend IUPUI in the Fall to work towards that goal.

"I wanna inspire people and help them be better people," she explained.

The one person who always did that for Alyssa, who cheered her on not matter what and got her to this moment, was her older sister Ashley.

"I kind of look up to my big sister because she was the first one in our family to graduate high school and college and she went off to the Air Force. I haven't seen her in a long time," explained Alyssa, who said she hadn't seen her sister Andrea in almost two years. "She's at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas."

At least that's what Alyssa thought before graduation at the Indiana Convention Center.

Once Alyssa headed into the convention center to join her other graduating classmates, the coast was clear. Airman First Class Ashley Immel arrived at the convention center dressed in uniform and positioned herself behind the stage so no one could see her.

Ashley said she wouldn't have missed this milestone in her little sister's life for anything.

"I call her my little mini-me or pee wee. That's her nickname. That's what I call her," said Ashley.

Soon the sounds of "Pomp and Circumstance" filled the auditorium, as excited parents and friends snapped pictures of the 562 graduating seniors marching in and taking their seats.

Ashley remained backstage waiting for the moment when she could walk onto the stage and present her little sister, her "mini-me" with her ticket to her future, her high-school diploma, which Alyssa received with academic honors.

"It means a lot to me because I feel like that's like her final thing before she heads into her adult like if you will. It means a lot to me. I'm probably going to cry," said Ashley.

There was no probably about it.

When it was time for Alyssa to received her diploma, she didn't see her sister on stage at first. When she did, though, her eyes grew wide, her hand flew up to her mouth and the tears started to flow for both women.

Thousands of onlookers rose to their feet to applaud the heart-felt moment. Some were crying as Ashley handed Alyssa her diploma.

The two walked off the stage holding hands, an unforgettable moment for the Alyssa, not only for the milestone she had just reached, but for the big sister who helped her get there, still at her side, every step of the way.