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Lander Celebrates Graduate, Online Students with Hooding and Pinning Ceremony

students at hooding ceremonyDozens of Lander University students celebrated successes and sacrifices during the April 30 hooding and pinning ceremony for graduate and online students preparing to graduate.

Before they walked across the stage at commencement on May 1, they received hoods that represent their graduate program or pins that signified the unique position students are in when they take online courses.

Dr. Lloyd Willis, dean of the College of Graduate and Online Studies, talked about the growth of the college, saying that in fall of 2018, there were 74 graduate and online students enrolled and this academic year, there were 1,024.

“What these numbers mean for you, our graduates, is that our University is on the right track, it understands the economy, the workforce, and the job market of our city, county, state and nation,” Willis said.

Willis talked about the varied backgrounds that graduate students have – some enroll immediately after receiving their bachelor’s degrees while others return to college after time away and earn degrees while working full time and raising children.

He also acknowledged the busy lives led by graduate and online students, mentioning dinner break Zoom sessions and assignments done while sitting in school pickup lines. 

Tiara Freeman of Greenwood was reminded of her inspiration for getting her Master of Education when her name was called during the ceremony.

When Freeman’s name was announced, “That’s my mom,” was called out by her children in the audience. And they were first in line waiting for a hug during the reception.

“It feels wonderful because when I first started, I mean, they didn’t understand, but to see all the sacrifice they had to go through, giving mommy time to do her homework, they were willing and they’re very proud of me and that’s what I do it for, I did it for them,” Freeman said. “That’s my heart right there.”

Freeman said she was excited to be getting her master’s and to be getting it at Lander, since she also earned her undergraduate degree at Lander.

“I’m very happy to accomplish this,” she said.

Another student getting their hood was Nathan Mugande, who graduated with both a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a Master of Business Administration.

“I’m very excited,” Mugande said.  “It’s been a long journey with a lot of hurdles, but the fact that I was able to jump those hurdles makes me feel really good and I love that Lander has provided a very good environment that allowed me to be able to jump through those hurdles.”

He said that he has seen how business connects with everything else people do, so he wanted to understand the business world so he can apply it to his work in chemistry.