Lori Clark, a U.S. Army major on active duty in South Korea, surprised her son at a pre-graduation reception May 11, 2013, on Illinois State University’s campus.

Clark hadn’t seen her son, Cameron VanVooren, since July 4, 2012. He graduated with a degree in engineering technology.

Clark was a single parent when she enlisted in the Army in June 1994. She became a lab technician and went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, becoming a physicians assistant. She and her spouse, Byron Clark, a field artillery technician, are stationed in a brigade near the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

Originally she had planned to see her son’s graduation via a video teleconference but was granted a 10-day leave. She is on her second tour of duty in South Korea and will be transferred to the Fort Hood Army Base in Fort Hood, Texas, in June to work in the Warrior Transition Unit.