Picture of Lehigh student’s graduation cap surpasses 5 million views on Imgur


Devon Gallagher, ’16, a recent graduate, said she usually thought decorating graduation caps was a dumb idea. Little did she know a picture of her decorated cap would go viral on social media.

Gallagher posted a picture of her cap, which shows her strength and sense of humor towards her prosthetic leg. To her surprise, it went viral the following day on multiple social media platforms. It has more than five million views on Imgur, a website for posting images.

“I had no idea,” Gallagher said. “I guess people just thought it was funny and it went viral on Reddit, Imgur and people took the image from Imgur and posted it on Unilad, and that’s what got 70,000 likes on it. So they took that from Imgur or Reddit and then other random Instagrams have been taking it and posting it.”

Gallagher and one of her roommates were at their off-campus house talking about how people decorate graduation caps, which sparked her interest in decorating her own cap. Since Lehigh doesn’t allow you to keep your cap, she decided to decorate the cap with stickers from Rite Aid. When she told her friend Laura McCann, ‘16, about her idea, McCann didn’t expect anything else from her.

“(Gallagher) has such a wonderfully positive and humorous attitude towards life that I was not surprised at all when she told me her clever idea for her cap,” McCann said.

Gallagher said there was really no process behind the idea at all. The one thing she thought about was how she could use the saying “it cost and arm and a leg.”

“It didn’t cost an arm, and it didn’t really cost a leg either, so it was kind of a joke,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher posted the picture of her and her graduation cap on Reddit while driving across the country with her cousin, and the only other social media site she had posted it on was Instagram — nothing else.

Aside from the photograph being on different websites, blog and social media accounts, the photograph has also sparked different kinds of reactions and commentary. Gallagher said she has gotten everything from job offers, to even marriage proposals, and that her friends have been supportive, but also funny about it. Even McCann said she was amazed how quickly the photo went viral and how it could be found on so many different social media platforms.

Gallagher said her friends think it’s funny and were glad the rest of the world got to see her sense of humor from the picture.

Gallagher’s amputation was due to a congenital bone disease, and she said Lehigh has been beyond accommodating with the whole situation. Parking in particular has been convenient, as Lehigh gave her a staff parking permit so she could park wherever she wanted.

She fell and broke her foot one year, so she had the prosthetic, a broken leg and needed knee surgery, and that was when the stairs really started taking a toll, but walking around was never really difficult beyond that and the icy stairs. Ironically, she said a lot of Lehigh alumni commented on the picture of her questioning her decision to go to Lehigh knowing it’s on a mountain.

Her disability never led to any extra or unique treatment besides the parking permit. She said she would be the one to reach out to teachers, especially in the winter, if she wouldn’t be able to get to class as much due to difficulties in getting there.

“People are human,” Gallagher said. “They understand the problem, and they’re not going to be like ‘no you need to come to class,’ so no I wouldn’t say I’ve had special treatment. I’ve just had what you’d expect from a normal human being and how they’d react to the situation.”

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