GREENSBORO, N.C. – Kendra McKeithen didn’t expect to go to college. But she did.
She remembers shaking as she handed over her name card.
She was just a few steps away from walking across the stage at North Carolina A&T State University’s commencement ceremony for the class of 2019.
McKeithen wasn’t expecting what would happen next.
“I remember, ‘Kendra just keep it together, keep it together. Just walk across the stage, shake their hands and go on.’ But I come from a religious background, and when I've been through what I've been through, and I know who brought me through all that, when the Spirit hits you that's not something you can contain, that's not something you have any type of control over,” she said.
Almost immediately after her name was called, she began to dance and shout with praise.
“Every chain that was around my neck, everything that felt like it was holding me back in college, I feel like all that just dropped off of me,” she said.
The crowd cheered and people around the stage waved their hands rejoicing with her.
McKeithen says she doesn’t remember hearing the crowd or seeing anyone else in that moment.
“That was nobody but God that got me to that moment, so that was definitely a moment between me and Him,” she said.
People in the crowd shot video of McKeithen’s praise dance.
One video went on to have more than one million views on Facebook.
McKeithen, a native of Mount Airy, says as much as her parents wanted to send her and her three brothers to college, it wasn’t an option financially.
McKeithen went on to enlist in the United States Army.
She would pursue her degree in sports science as an Army veteran.
However, being in school would come with challenges.
“During college I suffered a case of severe depression to the point where it was just like there's no point, there's no point.”
She kept pushing toward her goal and McKeithen became the first in her immediate family to graduate from college.
She’s happy that people are inspired by the moment that was caught on camera, but she makes it clear that it was not something planned or done to get attention.
It was a sincere moment of gratitude.
“Don't be afraid to worship who you worship, nobody knows but you,” she said.
McKeithen is preparing to return to active duty.
She will leave for her next assignment in about two weeks.