'In the past, I have been a bit hesitant about receiving such attention, so seeing my head 20 feet off the ground was a bit of a shock,' said Ryan.
Every parent feels proud of their children on one or more occasions. They want to celebrate that moment with their children and share it with the world. So did Michelle and Roosevelt Boyland. Their son Ryan Boyland graduated from medical school this spring and they wanted to do something extra special for their son as he is the first doctor in their family. So Michelle came up with this fantastic idea of renting a billboard after watching TV and putting their son's achievement on it, reports Good Morning America.
The parents did have other plans, but Ryan didn't really agree with them. "I remember asking him about a party and I'm like, 'We need to celebrate you,' and him not wanting that. I'm like, 'What? No,'" Michelle said, reported KETV. "He said he hadn't done anything. I'm like, 'What! Yes, you have. You've done more than a lot of people.'"
The family ensured that the billboard was a surprise for him even after Ryan asked questions about it. "Everybody knew about it except Ryan. And I told him that I needed to talk to him and we're going to meet at his older brother's apartment complex in the parking lot," Michelle said, explaining that the parking lot was near the billboard. "Ryan had tons of questions, as usual. 'Why are we meeting? How come we can't talk about it right now over the phone?' I'm like, 'This is very important. I need to see your face.'"
The time to show him the billboard finally arrived and Ryan's mother, brother and sister took him to see it. He had no idea what was happening until he looked up and saw his photo above the roadway. The billboard reads, "Congratulations, Doctor Ryan Boyland, Class of 2023, University of Nebraska Medical Center." It is situated in front of Bellevue University in Bellevue, Nebraska.
"The first thing I thought was, how long it had been there and how many people had already seen me before I had seen me? And like a moment of mild panic kind of entered me," he shared. "In the past, I have been a little bit hesitant about receiving such attention and so seeing my head 20 feet off the ground was a bit of a shock."
Michelle had a specific reason for choosing that particular location for the billboard. "I chose that location because it's right down the street from the church that we attend, as well as right down the street from the high school that Ryan went to 10 years ago," Michelle said. "I wanted it to inspire our community. I wanted it to inspire the kids, little kids, adults, middle schoolers, to inspire that they can be doctors too."
Michelle's plan worked out well and the news spread quite fast. One thing Ryan appreciated about the billboard was "the value of seeing, essentially, people of color in this role, as doctors, as physicians," he said. "I'm one of the few people in my family who work in health care and so I didn't necessarily have a lot of examples of Black doctors or Black male doctors in front of me. And so now, a lot of people have that example and they have someone they can look to and I think that's important and I think that's valuable."
Ryan will reportedly soon be moving to Denver to start an emergency medicine residency with Denver Health and his parents are "very proud" of him. The first doctor in his family wants other people also to follow their dreams. "You can't be what you can't see. Hopefully, by providing an example for other people to motivate themselves to get into health care and realize they can get into health care and be a doctor. I think that's very important," said Ryan.