GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - On December 18 at 7 p.m., Skylar Hughes received the email she'd been waiting anxiously for.
The email was a status update for her application to Duke University.
"I was so nervous. I wanted to open it so bad," Skylar said.
But the 17-year-old senior at Grayson High School decided to wait because she wanted to share the moment with a certain person.
"I knew that it was important for me to share this moment with her, even if I got deferred or denied. College was really important to both of my parents so I knew that it was important for me to share it with her," Skylar said.
Then, the next day, Skylar and her dad made a trip to the cemetery.
It was there, next to her mother's grave and by her father's side, she opened the email.
A video of the moment shows Skylar screaming and crying as she hugs her father.
Skylar's mother passed away in 2016 following a brain aneurysm.
Since then, her mother has missed out on seeing her daughter grow into an intelligent and passionate teen..
Skylar said her mother's spirit has been her for the last four years but she wanted to make sure they shared this moment in a special way.
"I just felt at ease opening it there. It was a lot easier for me to press the button because I knew she would be proud of me regardless of whether or not I got in," Skylar said.
Her father, James Hughes, said this is a dream she's has since she started high school.
She was chosen to a summer program with Duke University last year.
Skylar picked this school specifically because it has one of the best marine labs in the US and it'll give her the education and experience she'll need to become a marine biotechnologist.
"I want to work with the Scripps institute of oceanography at SDSU. Basically what they do is unpack the really, really complex molecular genetics and genomics," Skylar said.
According to her father, it's a dream she'll have no problem accomplishing.
"Skylar is one of those people where when she sets her mind to it, she's going to tackle it," Hughes said. "She excels in whatever she decides to do. She jumps on it and tackles it full force. I'm just so proud of her and I know her mom is looking down so proud."
You can help Skylar's journey to Duke University by donating to her GoFundMe.
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