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Mark Zuckerberg chokes up while speaking about an undocumented student

CAMBRIDGEW, MA - 5/25/2017: BIG ON HAND SHAKES...Mark Zuckerberg, Harvard dropout and CEO of Facebook, a company worth nearly $400 billion, got a college degree more than a decade after leaving his classes behind here at the Harvard Commencement. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo) SECTION: METRO TOPIC 26harvard

David L Ryan/Globe Staff

Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard on Thursday.

It was quite an emotional day for Mark Zuckerberg.

The founder of Facebook appeared to be visibly emotional before he took the podium to address Harvard graduates on Thursday, apparently trying to hold back tears and wiping his nose.

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But it was late in his speech where Zuckerberg seemed to really lose it.

Late in his commencement address, Zuckerberg choked up as he recalled an encounter with an undocumented student he taught at the Boys & Girls Club.

“It says something about our situation today that I can’t even say his name because I don’t want to put him at risk,” Zuckerberg said.

The social media mogul said one day, as he was speaking to the class about higher education, one of his top students “raised his hand and said he wasn’t sure he could go to college because he’s undocumented.”

On the student’s birthday, Zuckerberg said he wanted to take the boy out for breakfast for his birthday. When he asked the student what he wanted as a gift, Zuckerberg said the boy answered by talking about the struggles his peers faced, and ended up asking for a book on social justice.

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The boy’s answer, Zuckerberg said, absolutely floored him.

“I was blown away,” Zuckerberg said, as his voice choked up and tears began glistening in his eyes. “Here is a young guy who has every reason to be cynical — he wasn’t sure if the country he calls home, the only one he’s known, was going to deny him his dream of going to college.”

There’s a lesson to be learned from that teen, according to Zuckerberg.

“If a high school senior who doesn’t know what the future holds for him can do his part to move the world forward, then we owe it to the world to do our part too.”

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