TULSA, Okla — Oral Roberts University celebrated its 2021 graduates at its commencement ceremony taking place at the Mabee Center.
John Charles is one of more than 800 ORU students who crossed the stage at The Mabee Center Saturday afternoon.
Charles may have been one of the last ones to cross the stage for his degree during the ceremony, but he is the first in his family to graduate from college.
"It was a lot of emotional feelings walking the stage and seeing my parents inside, just knowing like okay we did something today," Charles said.
Saturday's milestone taking on a very special meaning for hundreds of graduates like Charles.
The 2021 graduating class was not only the largest since 1994, it's faith was also put to the test when the pandemic hit at the end of their junior year.
"They had to move to virtual learning, and the university, actually in just less than a week went from in person live classes to virtual learning and these students maintained their classes, they stayed 100 percent involved," ORU's Vice President of External Affairs, Charles Scott said.
Nearly 200 of the 885 students graduated virtually.
"These students absolutely exemplify resilience and perseverance," Scott said.
It took grit, determination, and a lot of faith, but on Saturday all 885 graduates became ORU Alumni.
"For a while, we never knew if this was going to be possible and so being here, it just feels surreal to be with my classmates that I’ve been with for four years,” Kill Wiltz, ORU graduate said.
Saturday's graduation is also the first major event on campus since the mask mandate ended.
Most students wore face masks throughout the ceremony and removed them for the diploma photos.
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