A proud New Jersey mom wanted to celebrate her daughter becoming a doctor in a big way.
To publicly recognize her daughter, Dr. Kristine Smalls, who graduated from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kendra Busbee of Camden decided to rent a digital billboard. Smalls earned her doctorate in Psychology from the school on July 29th.
“I am the proudest mom knowing that I have the most awesome daughter. I can’t even explain the feeling that I have right now. She has done everything that a mother could wish their child could do,” Busbee told “Good Morning America.” “I wish nothing but the best for her.”
Busbee said she thought of renting the billboard after her daughter mentioned that a friend’s mom had done something similar. “I got on the phone, and I started making phone calls: ‘You know where I can get a billboard and who I can reach out to?'” Busbee said. “I reached out to someone that just opened up a bakery, and she directed me to someone that she used for her billboard, and they gave me an amazing price.”
Busbee kept the billboard a secret from Smalls and arranged for friends and family to meet them at a parking lot near the billboard on the day it went live. She then asked her daughter to accompany her to see friends at a pub near the billboard.
“I said, ‘Oh, I moved the car,’ and we’re walking to the car, and she’s like, ‘OK, I don’t know what’s going on.’ And she sees everybody outside of their car standing there, waiting. So she’s thinking that I’m giving her a COVID party [for her graduation],” Busbee told “Good Morning America.”. “I’m like, ‘The billboard!’ and she’s like, ‘Oh!’ … It was awesome.”
Smalls’ billboard featured a large photo of her in her graduation cap and tassel and read, “Let Me Reintroduce Myself… Dr. Kristine S. Smalls — Dr. Smiles — Look what good came out of Camden!”
“She just stood there in shock,” Busbee continued. “So I hugged her. She hugged me back. And I said, ‘We did it, baby. You did it.’ … And then I played Jay-Z’s ‘let me reintroduce myself,’ ” she added.
The mother of two says her daughter has wanted to be a doctor since age five and originally intended to become a pediatrician before switching to psychology in college.
Smalls, now 30, earned a master’s degree before completing a five-year doctorate program this year with a dissertation titled “African American Women’s Perspectives on Mental Health.”
Smalls will begin a post-doctoral program with the Resilience, Empowerment, And Creating Hope (REACH) School Program, which is part of Springfield Psychological, a Pennsylvania-based mental health practice, in the fall.