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When Rachel Grace watched her older brother go off to college two years ago, she hoped that one day she, too, could experience that feeling.
Grace, 20, who has Down syndrome, has been a beloved student at North Penn High School in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, where she is now part of a post-12 work/study program after walking with her graduating class in 2014.
Last week, she was able to experience the euphoria of college acceptance like any other senior when she found out she was accepted at East Stroudsburg University. The joyous moment was captured on video by her mother.
"I got in!'' Grace exclaims. "I'm going to college!"
"I'm running out of adjectives to describe that moment,'' her mother, Deb Grace, told TODAY.com. "It was just really a great, fun moment."
Deb and her husband, Tom Grace, had already been informed by East Stroudsburg via email that Rachel had been accepted. They decided to film the moment when she read the letter. Deb can be heard in the background of the video saying, "I'm so nervous I could cry."
"We are in absolute shock how much attention it's gotten,'' Deb said. "We did that so her grandparents, friends and our family could enjoy when she found out. I joke that if I knew how much it would be seen, I would've cleaned the dirty countertops!"
The proud parents felt East Stroudsburg would be a great fit for Rachel because it resembles the North Penn High School community. Rachel, who applied to four colleges, grew up playing sports with many of her classmates and served as the manager for the girls varsity basketball team for three years.
"This is result of an entire community just being really accepting and open and great with all kinds of people,'' Deb said. "When you look at the ESU community and her high school, it felt the same. This is a good fit because it feels really similar and accepting."
Since being accepted, Rachel has already been congratulated by one of the deans from East Stroudsburg and invited to join a sorority. In the fall, she will join her older brother, who is a sophomore at Lehigh University, among the college ranks.
"Most of these kids (in the post-12 program) have to get a job,'' Deb said. "They don't have an opportunity to further their skills or get an opportunity to live away from home. She will get that college experience and also be at a place where she can learn some job skills."
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