After missing out on an in-person graduation because of the pandemic, students of a Quebec English university had the chance to properly mark their achievements with combined convocation ceremonies for the graduating classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022.
It's been two years since students at Bishop's University in Sherbrooke, Que., walked across the stage to receive their diplomas, as graduations went virtual in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
But this weekend, hundreds of students flooded back to their alma mater in their caps and gowns. Those who attended the ceremonies said they were happy to re-connect with friends and classmates they hadn't seen since they were forced online.
"It's hard because we wanted to say goodbye to our gang. There are still people who were not able to come here, unfortunately, but I'm glad we did it," said Nadia Rochefort, a 2020 graduate.
The 2020 and 2021 cohorts received their diplomas in two separate ceremonies Saturday, and graduates from the class of 2022 were honoured during two others on Sunday.
Andrew Rutherford graduated this year with a bachelor of arts degree in music. He said the energy at the ceremony was exciting and joyous.
"It feels like things are kind of getting back to normal.… It feels like things are back to the way they were when I first started coming to university," he said.
"We've been distancing and doing school online for such a long time, and now we've got everyone back together and it's fun."
The university also handed out honorary degrees to some notable guests of honour, including cyclist and businessman Louis Garneau and infectious diseases specialist and COVID-19 expert Caroline Quach.