After a virtual pinning ceremony was held Thursday night, the nursing department at the Community College of Philadelphia hosted a drive-thru ceremony in their parking garage on 17th Street, so graduates could pick up their pins.
"Online it's like, OK it is what it is, but in person, it feels more real," said Shanae Scott from Northeast Philadelphia.
Next week, CCP will host an in-person "grad walk" where graduates will have the opportunity to walk across the stage and take official graduation photos.
"I wanted to be a nurse because my mom is a nurse," said Yifan Zhang of Northeast Philadelphia.
One hundred and twelve students graduated with an Associate in Applied Science in Nursing, during National Nurses Week.
Nursing Department Head Dr. Barbara McLaughlin explained the pandemic opened different opportunities when clinical experience was allowed to resume.
"For part of their rotations, they were out in the community doing COVID testing and giving the vaccine. They were working in community agencies in Kensington and other areas of the city," said McLaughlin.
But like most schooling, classes were pushed virtual, which posed challenges.
"Being at home and doing all this school work, I mean they tried, but it had to be all self-driven," said Mercedes Mulholland of Northeast Philadelphia.
For these graduates, the pandemic did not scare them away from the field but rather solidified their calling.
"It was more motivation to keep going," said Scott.
"They need more help. They need more support, so we want to actually contribute," said Huijing Yang of West Philadelphia.
The licensing exam is next for these graduates. Many will continue on to get bachelor's degrees.