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Seattle Central College celebrates students with in-person graduation

It is one of the few college campuses in Washington to offer a socially distanced in-person commencement for the class of 2021.

SEATTLE — Seattle Central College celebrated the class of 2021 with one of the few in-person graduation ceremonies offered in the western Washington region.

Seattle Central College was the last of the trio of Seattle Colleges to hold commencement on Saturday, with North Seattle College holding theirs earlier that day and South Seattle College having its commencement June 18.

College staff said the students deserved to celebrate in-person with a socially distanced, drive and walk-through ceremony on a parking garage rooftop, complete with music and photo opportunities.

"We're happy to do something in person because we've been online for a little too long," said Dennis Denman, Director of Student Leadership at Seattle Central College.

Seattle Central College President Sheila Edwards Lange knew what students have endured since 2020, calling them the most resilient class ever.

"They had to switch the mode of operation quickly, they've had to adjust to technology challenges; haven't we all when the zoom doesn't work? But they stayed the course," Edwards Lange said.

Edwards Lange said about 200 students signed up for the graduation ceremony on Saturday. She said typically, about 1,200 to 1,300 students graduate in a given year.

Among the graduating class of 2021 is Lina Kalume, who immigrated to the U.S. from the Democratic Republic of Congo five years ago.

She is graduating with an associated degree in health sciences and plans to continue her education at the University of Washington. Her goal is try for medical school.

"Never give up. Go for the gold, go for the dream. Go for what you want to do in life, you know?" Kalume said.