University of the Pacific’s Knoles Lawn was filled with many smiling faces and much applause on Saturday morning.
Family and friends gathered at Pacific to celebrate the class of 2022 graduates during an all-university commencement ceremony.
Pete Carroll honored: Seattle Seahawks coach receives honorary doctorate degree from Pacific
Laurie Mar, a Sacramento resident, made the drive to Stockton to watch her daughter receive her bachelor’s degree.
Mar said her daughter skipped a few grades in elementary school and earned college credits in high school, allowing her to receive her bachelor’s degree at only 19 years old.
“Words can’t express how proud I am of her,” Mar said. “As a mother, this is one of my happiest moments.”
Joshua Saenz, a current Pacific student, attended the ceremony to support his friends who are graduating.
“The community at Pacific is really close-knit. I’ve made some amazing friends here,” Saenz said. “I’m sad to see some of them go, but I wouldn’t want to miss seeing them walk the stage.”
Download the app: Get the latest news, sports and more
Gavin Henderson, a graduate of Pacific’s class of 2021, also attended the ceremony to cheer on his friends who are receiving their degrees.
Henderson said he felt nostalgic seeing the graduates dressed in their academic regalia.
“It gave me flashbacks,” Henderson said. “It wasn’t too long ago when that was me. But I’m just happy to be here and see my friends start the next chapter of their lives.”
Henderson said he returned to Pacific after graduating to work as a program specialist.
“I came back because I wanted to give back to Pacific and to the community here,” Henderson said. “Pacific is special and it’s helped me grow in so many ways.”
Mara Baldwin, who received her bachelor’s degree in music therapy, said graduating is a “bittersweet” feeling.
“It’s super exciting and super rewarding, but it’s really hard to leave all of these people that I’ve grown close to over the course of the past four years,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said she spent her freshman year on campus, but had to make the switch to online instruction in her sophomore year. That’s when the university locked down due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was really hard being in lockdown because I was away from the support system that I built for a year and a half,” she said. “Things didn’t feel the same.”
Baldwin said there were online meetings held for clubs she was a part of on campus.
“We tried our best to maintain those connections and our efforts paid off,” she said. “We came back and we were still as strong as ever, but it was definitely hard to lose a lot of time that we could’ve spent together on campus.”
Tina Phan received her master’s degree in engineering science and said Saturday’s ceremony felt “like a long time coming.”
“I’m happy that I finally get to do the official walk,” Phan said. “I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in 2020 so there was an online ceremony, but that time was just so weird.”
Phan said it was hard for her and her class of 2020 friends to celebrate their achievements.
“We just wanted to be done because we were so close to the finish line and then COVID got thrown at us,” she said. “We didn’t really care about having a ceremony at that time.”
Phan said since then, she’s completed her schooling and gotten her first “adult” job.
“I’ve basically entered adulthood so being here today is the perfect way to cap it off,” she said.
Pacific is set to award nearly 2,000 degrees at the Stockton, San Francisco and Sacramento campuses over the next several weekends. These include 851 undergraduates, 435 graduates and 662 professional students’ degrees.
Record reporter Hannah Workman covers news in Stockton and San Joaquin County. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @byhannahworkman . Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at recordnet.com/subscribenow.
This article originally appeared on The Record: Pacific celebrates class of 2022 graduates with commencement ceremony