By Rachel Wulff

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento State kicked off its first formal commencement in two years. A record nine thousand graduates are expected to walk the stage this weekend — despite what Mother Nature had in store.

Wicked winds whipped as families arrived at the Golden 1 Center.

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Ramona Baird-Moyer was one of the first in line for Sac State’s first formal in-person commencement ceremony in two years.

Her son, Richard, was one of the thousands holding onto their caps and gowns outside as tables overturned and umbrellas upended.

“This day is more for her,” he said.

Inside, graduates from fall 2021, spring 2022 and summer 2022 were honored.

The college of business kicked off seven commencement ceremonies over the next three days.

“Four years for a piece of paper. It’s great,” one graduate said.

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It’s a piece of paper that’s key to unlocking so much potential.

“I work for Paragon Products LLC already, but I get promoted to quality manager now,” graduate Aida Ramos said.

Many celebrated with friends and family. It’s an accomplishment, especially given how distance learning and pandemic protocols impacted the last two years of their education.

“It was definitely a little harder. Online learning wasn’t what I expected,” Ramos said.

It’s now on to the workforce for these grads.

“I was an intern at SMUD, and now I’m having full-time employment after I graduate,” another graduate said.

The walk was worth the wait no matter the weather.

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Elk Grove Unified will also be holding its graduations at Golden 1 Center beginning Monday.