CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — On Friday, following a year of loss and uncertainty, hundreds of students walked out as University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduates.
Many said they were thankful for their experience of learning through a pandemic.
“I feel sentimental and happy and sad at the same time — it’s just a mix of everything,” said Matthew Wang, a UNC graduate.
The group received words of wisdom virtually from UNC graduate Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett who helped develop the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a chief medical advisor to the president.
Fauci commended the university on efforts to slow the COVID-19 spread but says there is still much work to do nationwide and globally.
“As you enter a hurting world that is trying desperately to recover from this pandemic that is still raging and whose future course is still uncertain, whether you realize it or not you can play an important role in ending the pandemic and in our recovery from it,” Fauci said.
His message comes on the same day that Gov. Roy Cooper significantly reduced face mask and gathering restrictions in North Carolina.
With the turning of their tassel and the world slowly returning to normal, the UNC graduates say they’re eager to put all that they’ve learned during the pandemic to good use.
“It made me very adaptable — just changing on the fly every day was very new and different. I think that’s made me a well-rounded student and I hope that makes me a great nurse,” said Evan Robertson, a UNC graduate.
While there were many students and families in attendance at Friday’s ceremony, seating was socially distanced, there was also hand sanitizer and many people seen wearing face masks.
There are several more ceremonies throughout the weekend.