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Soldier travels across the globe to surprise daughter at graduation

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ATLANTA -

An Army Reserve sergeant surprised his daughter by returning from an overseas deployment and presenting her with her diploma at high school graduation.

Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Dedrick Clark returned from Kuwait on Thursday after eight months overseas. He kept his return a secret in order to surprise his daughter, Dia Clark, at Lovejoy High's commencement ceremony, which was held at the Georgia Dome.

"She has no idea, I talked to her today…and she has no idea. She thinks I'm still over in Kuwait," Clark said before the commencement.

Dia's mother, Army officials and school leaders all conspired to make it a special moment for the Jonesboro teen.

"I am so mad at him," Dia joked. "I just talked to him earlier and my sister was just crying because he couldn't make it and he's here."

Sgt. Clark appeared on stage to the crowd's applause and his daughter's surprise as she received her diploma.

Dia graduated with honors and is the recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, one of only 1,000 nationwide. Dia says her inspiration has been her father.

"He's one of the main people I wanted here. He's my biggest fan, my biggest supporter through everything and I'm so glad he made it," said Dia Clark.

Sgt. Clark says he's scheduled to return to Kuwait in a week. In the meantime, he said he'll be catching up with his family.

Dia Cark said that she'll attend the University of Georgia, where she has a full scholarship. Her dad says he plans to return to the states on a more permanent basis so he won't have to travel halfway across the world to be at her next graduation.

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