In-person graduation ceremonies return to Washington state

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Sixty thousand people filled Husky Stadium on Saturday for the University of Washington graduation ceremony. Because of the pandemic, the graduation ceremony of 2022 was the first time in two years that the commencement was held in person.

“It feels great. After the last two years, it certainly feels great to finally get over the hump. I think today is a testament to the resilience of the Class of 2022,” said Abdirizak Abdi, who earned degrees in architecture and construction management.

“It feels awesome. This is five years coming for me,” said Alissa Acheson, from Sammamish. She earned degrees in human-centered design and engineering and Swedish.

“I had to watch all my friends graduate last year through virtual ceremonies. It was kind of tough. They didn’t get all the fanfare I’m getting right now, so I definitely feel for them,” she said.

Security was extra tight at Husky Stadium to prepare for the massive crowd. Police dogs inspected every car that approached the stadium, and the Port of Seattle bomb squad stood by on scene.

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But for students, their biggest concern was the weather.

“Yesterday I was like please, please, please,” Acheson said.

But the skies cleared Saturday, even bringing sunshine.

“I was checking every day, in the morning, in the night, afternoon — what is tomorrow?” said Jose Angel Arias-Angulo, a UW grad. “I think God (said), ‘This is my present for you.’” Arias-Angulo was originally an attorney in Venezuela and now is graduating from the School of Law.

“This is an incredible honor for me,” Arias-Angulo said. “I can start to return to my profession. Especially (working) for the Latin immigration community,” he said.

“I’m really excited to be here and just proud to be a Husky,” Acheson said.

In-person graduation also returned to Western Washington University, which is honoring about 2,000 graduates with a series of eight ceremonies over the weekend.

Seattle Pacific University will hold its undergraduate commencement exercises on Sunday, June 12, at the Tacoma Dome. More than 1,000 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students will graduate from SPU this weekend.