By Marlee Ginter

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Graduation didn’t look the same at the Golden 1 Center, but California Northstate University graduates wouldn’t have missed their big day for anything.

“I am really excited to be here with everyone and to be able to celebrate all of our accomplishments and achievements together,” said graduate Olivia Wu.

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“We haven’t seen each other in a while so it will be great to see some familiar faces,” said graduate Edward King.

Edward King, after a hard four years compounded by the pandemic, is now graduating from California Northstate University’s College of Medicine. King was thrilled to be able to walk across the stage at Golden 1 Center in front of his family.

“They’re doing a great job at making sure that we’re doing this safely. And we’re very grateful for that, that they’re giving us the opportunity to do this,” said King.

The ceremony may have been in person, but it still came with precautions. Graduates and their attending family members had to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

“We were expecting a Zoom call to be honest. I’m from Austin Texas and we were super excited to hear that they were going to do it in person,” said Brian Lau who flew in from Austin, TX to see his sister graduate.

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These future pharmacists, physicians and other healthcare professionals are entering the medical field already with experience in a global pandemic.

They’ve provided care for COVID patients and helped their community get vaccinated.

“The different people get to see what we can do with our degree and not just help our community but globally with making vaccinations, with making medications,” said graduate Natali Chavez.

So these college students didn’t wait for this day, they earned it.

“This is just an accumulation, a celebration of four years of hard work and dedication. I’m sure we’re all very excited for this,” said King.

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Family flew in from all over the country to be able to see their loved ones graduate. Northstate University wanted to make sure they could be there in person, so Golden 1 Center offered discounted on-site rapid COVID testing for anyone who needed it.