LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - On Saturday morning, some 800 students of McNeese State University were all smiles as they took part in the school's 142nd commencement.
But it was also the 75th anniversary of the school – making them a Diamond University Class.
Graduate Kayla Guillory says, "I'm really excited that the day's finally here."
"Four years. Finally! I'm really, really excited. My heart is like racing," added Clarissa Fontenot.
Adorned in their caps and tassels, official gowns, and other insignia, graduates among one of the largest graduating classes in McNeese history also took a moment to reflect.
"It's been a long time coming," said Jarryn Rosas.
KPLC's Justin Penn added, "It's great. It's been a long road for me, so I'm just glad I'm finally getting it done."
The big day is also an emotional one for loved ones, many attending the ceremony, showing support in a variety of ways.
The Golden Scholars also attended, representing former graduating classes.
"It's quite an honor. Those of us who graduated 50 years ago, it seems just like yesterday," said Diane Wilkinson, from class of 1961.
And whether they graduated 50 years ago or today, graduates offered each other advice and words of wisdom.
"Don't give up, because I almost gave up and look where I'm at today," said Jarvis Hinton.
"Do your best in everything you do because you never know when you might need that experience in your next position," added Wilkinson.
"Keep working, don't give up. No matter how long it takes, just keep working," said Penn.
One by one, students proudly accepted their diplomas in one hand, turning the tassel with the other.
And while today marks a new chapter, many are already looking at the next step.
"I plan on making money and going to grad school," said Rosas.
But before that, hard work calls for a little celebration.
Also receiving recognition today was Louie Barbe III and Carroll Wade Shaddock, Jr.; each received Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.