After nearly two years without a traditional graduation, the University of Hawaii at Hilo celebrated more than 200 graduates at an in-person commencement Saturday morning.
The College of Arts and Science, College of Hawaiian Language and the College of Agriculture Forestry and Natural Resource Management graduated 233 students with 295 degrees and certificates this fall semester.
Students dressed in traditional graduation attire lined up in anticipation before officially celebrating their accomplishments in front of friends and family.
“I just feel honored to be here, because when you walk on stage you can share that moment with your family, friends and your faculty,” said anthropology graduate Samantha Gehrman. “It feels like our hard work over the last four years has come to fruition, and physically being here to celebrate is exciting.”
John Hadley Anson moved from a small island in Micronesia to attend school at UH-Hilo. While he couldn’t see his family in person, emotions still ran high.
“Being here means a lot and brings up a lot of emotions for me,” Anson said. “During my time here, I’ve lost some family members, which is hard, because I’m not there. But in general it is truly a blessing to be here.”
Anson graduated from the College of Arts and Science with a degree in Administration of Justice and felt lucky to be able to walk across the stage.
“I feel for those who had to miss out on celebrating graduation, because it’s truly a blessing to be recognized for our hard work,” Anson said. “As of right now, I don’t feel like I’m graduating. It still feels like a dream.”
The fact that graduates can celebrate their commencement in person feels like an even more exciting feat after navigating through school during the COVID-19 crisis.
“We’ve all been through a lot the past two and half years, with going to school online and living through the pandemic,” said history graduate Kenneth Clinton-John Sweezey. “It feels special to be part of this. Right now, I have chicken skin.”
UH-Hilo held a second commencement Saturday afternoon for the graduates from the College of Natural and Health Sciences, College of Business and Economics and the College of Pharmacy.
Email Kelsey Walling at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald