More than 750 students from Bendigo's La Trobe University campus will attend their long-awaited graduations this week, after the pandemic halted in-person ceremonies in early 2020.
The on campus graduations are taking place over three days and include any students who finished their degrees in the last two years.
La Trobe's last graduation ceremony held in Bendigo was in May 2019, and the University was adamant to push ahead with in person ceremonies as soon as possible.
"We felt really strongly as a university about ensuring we could do it in person, we didn't want to have an online graduation," said Deputy Vice Chancellor of Students, Professor Jessica Venderlelie.
Among Thursday's graduates were Master of Teaching students Stacey Cockram and Jarett Boorn.
Ms Cockram was part of the very first cohort of Aspire Program students, using her volunteering with Life Saving Victoria to secure an early offer to Bachelor of Outdoor Education at La Trobe's Bendigo campus in 2015.
She continued on with a Masters of Education which she completed this year.
"I loved my time up here at university" she said, "I made really good friends coming regional, and I've enjoyed every minute of it."
Ms Cockram now works for a high school in Melbourne's western suburbs as an education field officer.
"To simplify I go on school camp every week, and I love it," she said.
Jarett Boorn said graduating in person is a final recognition of the exceptional efforts of all students during the pandemic.
To go through university in one of the toughest years imaginable... it's fantastic to reach the endpoint.- Jarett Boorn, Masters of Teaching graduate.
La Trobe University Chancellor John Brumby said that the university is one of the only Australian institutions conducting in person graduations.
"We wanted to send the message that we're open, we've got students on campus and we're graduating them," said the Chancellor.
Sudanese refugee and Bachelor of business graduate Galou Mabior is also one of several of this week's graduates.
A former child soldier in Africa, Mr Mabior was working as a factory worker in Melbourne until 2015 when he relocated to Bendigo thanks to a La Trobe scholarship, which he won with support from the Community Foundation for Central Victoria.
He said it was a no brainer that he attend university in Australia, despite the challenges of raising a young child and supporting his family back in South Sudan.
"My parents were poor and uneducated so I didn't have the chance to continue my schooling in Sudan," he said, "but to help my community I had to finish my education."
Now that he's graduated, Mr Mabior is hoping to find some employment in accounting or related fields.
Chancellor Brumby congratulated each student at the end of the ceremony.
"I said to the graduates today that when they look back in the years and decades to come, this is an extraordinary period to graduate, it's an extraordinary period of world history."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.