A proud New Jersey mom rented a billboard to honor her daughter becoming a clinical psychologist. Dr. Kristine Smalls graduated with her Psy.D degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine on July 29, 2022.
Her mom, Kendra Busbee, wanted the whole world to know about her daughter’s accomplishments. Renting a digital billboard seemed like the perfect way to celebrate her earning a doctorate.
“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 in an interview. “I wish nothing but the best for her.”
Busbee planned to rent a billboard after Kristine told her a friend’s mom had done so recently. The proud mom initially turned down the idea, thinking it would be too expensive. However, after finding a decent deal, she quickly changed her mind and decided to surprise Kristine.
“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 told GMA. “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 added that she already had a design in mind for the billboard. She stayed up late at night brainstorming ideas in a notebook, envisioning how the massive billboard would look. She eventually created the perfect design and couldn’t wait for her daughter to see it.
It wasn’t easy keeping the celebratory billboard a secret until the day it went live. Busbee told friends and family to gather in a parking lot near the billboard for the big reveal. At the same time, she asked her daughter to meet her and visit friends at a nearby bar.
NJ Mom Surprises Daughter With Congratulatory Billboard After She Graduated
When Busbee told Kristine to come outside, she initially saw the massive crowd of people and didn’t notice the billboard. When her mom pointed out the giant display of public recognition, the graduate was at a loss for words.
“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 said. “I’m like, ‘The billboard!’ and she’s like, ‘Oh!’… It was awesome.”
“She just stood there in shock,” the proud mother added. “So I hugged her. She hugged me back. And I said, ‘We did it, baby. You did it.'”
Kristine’s billboard displayed a sizable photo of her wearing her graduation cap and tassel. On the side of the picture, it read, “Let Me Reintroduce Myself… Dr. Kristine S. Smalls — Dr. Smiles — Look what good came out of Camden!”
Busbee added that after revealing the billboard to her daughter, she played “Jay-Z’s ‘let me reintroduce myself.'” This phrase referred to the rapper’s song “Public Service Announcement (Interlude),” a fitting song for the occasion.
Busbee and her daughter felt touched by the friends and family who showed up to celebrate with them. However, Busbee said she also felt the company of her late mom, Doretha Busbee, on that special day.
Her mom passed away while Kristine attended Kean University for her undergraduate studies. Busbee continued, saying that her mother had a close relationship with her children. So, feeling her mom’s presence at the billboard reveal made the event even more memorable.
The proud parent said her daughter knew she wanted to become a doctor since she turned 5. She described her daughter as “very determined [and] very dedicated.” Kristine originally wanted to become a pediatrician but later changed her major to psychology in college.
The College Graduate Has a Bright Future Ahead
PROUD MOMENT: Kendra Busbee had to let the world know about her daughter getting her Doctorate in Psychology… so she rented a billboard! It’s sharing a great message in the city of #Camden. @6abc 6pm pic.twitter.com/EXfdFqAc21
— TaRhonda Thomas (@TaRhondaThomas) August 9, 2022
After earning a master’s degree, the 30-year-old completed her five-year doctorate course earlier in 2022. She wrote her dissertation on “African American Women’s Perspectives on Mental Health.”
In the fall of 2022, Kristine will put her degree to good use by getting some real-world experience. She plans on beginning a post-doctorate program with the Resilience, Empowerment, And Creating Hope (REACH) School Program. Springfield Psychological, a mental health practice in Pennsylvania, launched the program in 2014 to provide behavioral health support to students.
According to the Springfield Psychological website, the REACH program includes:
- Daily group therapy, which provides evidence-based treatments, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
- Weekly individual therapy to discuss social and emotional health, as well as academic performance
- Family therapy and supplemental referral services as required
- Collaboration with school administration and teachers
- Professional development sessions for school staff members
- Coordination with community leaders and mentors
- 24/7 crisis services through crisis helpline
Students have demonstrated improvements after taking part in the program. School districts have reported the following benefits from the program:
- Enhanced academic performance
- Reduction in absenteeism/lateness
- Decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms
- A dramatic decline in discipline referrals
- A successful transition back into school from outside treatment programs
- Strengthening of relationships between students and staff members
The program seems right up Kristine’s alley, and we don’t doubt that she will add value to countless students’ lives.
Final Thoughts on Mom Renting Billboard to Celebrate Daughter Becoming a Doctor
An NJ mom decided to celebrate her daughter earning a doctorate by renting a massive billboard in the city. It featured a large photo of her daughter Kristine and a message highlighting her achievement.
Kendra Busbee couldn’t have been more proud of her daughter and wanted to recognize her publicly. After arranging for friends and family to gather near the billboard, Busbee surprised her daughter with the generous gift.
At that precious moment, it became clear to Kristine that all her hard work had paid off. This graduate will have a bright future as she helps students realize their potential through the REACH program.