PHILADELPHIA - Temple University’s class of 2022 walked on the stage Thursday teeming with excitement and nerves to receive their degrees.
After a global pandemic, Thursday’s event marked the university’s first in-person graduation ceremony since 2019.
Temple's newest and now 12th president, Jason Wingard, spoke about the exciting moment.
"They have been through such a tremendous experience the last couple of years with the pandemic and their perseverance and their grit has made us all really proud," Wingard said.
Families and friends were in attendance to watch almost 10,000 students graduate at the Liacouras Center on North Broad Street.
Freshly graduated Akina Wollie says being able to graduate in person, instead of virtually, has been a blessing.
"Oh my goodness; graduating in person was the most important factor for me because I wanted to see my parents," Wollie said. "I really wanted them to see me walk; and I’m dedicating my degree to my parents and family."
President Wingard says making the call for an in-person graduation was not a tough one.
"We asked everybody about what they wanted to do," he said. "Students and their families wanted to meet in person. We had the opportunity to do it, and to convene, and everyone’s happy about it."
This year's class includes graduates from 103 countries and all 50 states. A total of 66% of this years graduates came from Pennsylvania, including 18% from Philadelphia.
The youngest graduate is just 18-years-old, while the oldest is 73. The class also features 19 sets of twins!
For this graduating class, that has already survived so much, there is still so much more to do.
"I feel like I accomplished a huge road block in my life, but within academics it doesn’t stop here there’s always another hurdle to overcome."
Philadelphia native and basketball hall-of-famer Dawn Staley gave this year’s commencement speech.
Staley attended Dobbins Technical High School and went on to become a two-time Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year at the University of Virginia. She also won a gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics.
She coached Temple’s women’s basketball team from 2000-2008 before being named head coach at the University of South Carolina where she has won two NCAA championships.