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NIU grad’s gift to grandma goes viral

December 20, 2017

Brian Robinson just wanted to give his grandmother a new stove but by tweeting the moment from his smartphone, he gave a gift to the world.

Robinson, a May 2017 NIU graduate, who earned his degree in accountancy, inadvertently turned his grandmother into an internet viral video sensation by tweeting out the moment when she first saw the stove on Dec. 11. She literally jumped for joy and squealed with delight. The tweet has more than 3.5 million views. It was featured on the NBC Today show and in the online editions of USA Today, London’s Daily Mail and the BBC, to name a few.

“I never expected the video to blow up like this, but I am glad it did,” Robinson says. “It has made a lot off of people happy.”

The gift was to thank his grandmother, Monadell Robinson, for supporting him both financially and emotionally throughout college.

“My grandma was valedictorian of her class at North Carolina Central University, so she taught me and my siblings to value education,” Robinson says.

She also was always prodding him to do better.

“Every time I joined an organization or won an award, she would relish the moment, and then ask ‘How are your grades?’ A 3.5 grade point average wasn’t good enough; she always let me know that I could do better.”

Her encouragement worked. While excelling in NIU’s nationally recognized accountancy program, Brian also served as Vice-President of the Epsilon Phi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.; worked as a peer educator for Financial Cents; was director of orientation for Black Male Initiative, site manager for Goodwill’s Voluntary Income Tax Assistance Program; and served as a supplemental instruction leader for NIU’s Introductory Financial Accounting course. He was also and as a student senator and treasurer for the NIU Student Association. Those activities helped him win the Kevin D. Knight Senior Leadership Award. He also worked two internships at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and over the summer passed all four sections of the CPA exam on his first try. He now works for PwC as an assurance associate.

“My time at NIU prepared me well to start my career, especially the opportunities to develop leadership skills, which are essential to performing well in the workplace,” he says.

It was while attending Thanksgiving dinner at his grandmother’s house in Dolton that he hit upon the idea of replacing her worn-out stove. “I looked around and realized that she has had the same appliances my whole life,” Robinson says.

So far, Brian hasn’t been back to enjoy a meal cooked on the new range, but he expects that Christmas dinner at his grandmother’s house will be better than ever this year.