May 17—WILLIMANTIC — Close to 1,000 Eastern Connecticut State University graduates donned their caps, gowns and face masks to participate in commencement activities over the weekend.
Being the first commencement held since spring 2019 because of the coronavirus, students, staff and guests gathered on Windham Technical High School's athletic fields with fanfare.
About 370 undergraduate students walked across Eastern's stage Saturday afternoon to receive their diploma.
The last year for students was filled with virtual courses, coronavirus testing and quarantine cancelations.
Stafford residents and graduates Andrew Syphers and Kevin DeLorge gathered for photos before commencement Saturday.
They both studied business and marketing, but Syphers commuted to campus while DeLorge lived on campus as a resident assistant.
" I'm excited to have an in- person graduation," Syphers said. " I didn't think it was going to happen."
Business administration graduate Anastasia Jaworski of West Hartford said she and her mother were emotional driving into campus Saturday.
"It was a fast four years," Jaworski said. " The pandemic made the end disappointing, because I'm only graduating with half of my class today. It made me a little sad."
Graduates said staff and professors worked hard to ensure a normal experience during the pandemic.
" It was very tough with online
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