Dad Beams With Joy as Daughter With Down’s Syndrome Graduates From College

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Jay Handlin’s daughter, who has Down’s Syndrome, has graduated from college and the proud dad couldn’t be happier!

The twenty-four-year-old graduated from the California Institute of Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and her dad is clearly her number 1 supporter, sharing his pride online while also trying to tackle the stigma behind Down’s Syndrome.

When Rachel got the news that she’d graduated, Jay just had to tell the world about her amazing accomplishment. He wanted people to know that those with Down’s Syndrome are often doubted, denied success, and told that they can’t do certain things.

Rachel overcame all the hurdles that came her way, and her dad couldn’t be prouder. Posting his daughter’s photo to Twitter, the sixty-one-year-old parent made his thoughts clear…

“This is my daughter, Rachel Handlin. Tonight, she earned her full Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography & Media from the prestigious California Institute of the Arts, @CalArts ⁩. Rachel has #Downsyndrome. I am officially the proudest father on the planet. Fight me.”

His heartwarming comments caught a whole lot of attention online, highlighting the stigma towards the condition, which has been prevalent from the very moment it was discovered.

It’s never been easy for those born with it, and due to the lack of help and support students with Down’s have, a lot of kids struggle to make it through school, which is why better accommodations for special needs students need to be put in place.

“This is a very rough, ballpark calculation, but out of all the people with Down syndrome in the world, those who’ve earned a regular college degree are literally about one in a million. That’s not because they’re the only ones who could do it. They’re the ones whose families refused to let their children’s futures be denied, who fought unfair odds, social biases, low expectations, and systems stacked against them, and somehow managed to win,” Jay Handlin says in an interview with PEOPLE.

Rachel’s parents made sure to watch and foster her love for art at a young age, which has been crucial for her to succeed in her passion.

“The first time we took her to Musée d’Orsay, Laura was carrying Rachel when we entered the Van Gogh gallery and it was like an electric charge went through Rachel’s body. She had an instant, strong, positive physical reaction to the art,” he continued.

Rachel has an incredible journey ahead, and she’s already proving to people she can do anything she sets her mind to. Her Instagram is full to the brim with photography, making it very clear why she got a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

She is a fantastic role model for kids with the syndrome everywhere.

Congratulations, Rachel!