STATESBORO, GA (WTOC) - Georgia Southern University will walk 1,600 graduates across the stage inside Hanner Fieldhouse Friday in three ceremonies.
"Georgia Southern has grown to be a major university. We're a little more than 20,000 students. Now we have graduations that require multiple ceremonies to accommodate everyone that's graduating," said GSU Interim President Dr. Jean Bartels.
Each graduate brings loved ones and a story with them. Proud parents took picture after picture as graduates made their entrance to get their degree. It was a time for students to soak in the moment.
"It's such a blessing. When you get here as a freshman you think it will never come. But you finally get to graduate, and with your friends," said Manrey Saint-Amour, graduate.
Keynote speaker, local author Kathy Bradley, urged the graduates to keep reading and learning even when official classes have ended for some but not all.
"It's bittersweet because I know I'm probably going to go to graduate school this fall. So that's the main goal for right now," said Hayes Smith.
University leaders also congratulated parents and family who've seen their student through it all.
"It's amazing because 27 years ago I graduated from here and I know my son is prepared because this is a great university," said Christie Page, Hayes' mom.