2020 graduates honored to come back to the University of Florida to walk across the stage

Updated: May. 9, 2021 at 7:28 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A year later, the University of Florida class of 2020 walked across the stage for a make-up commencement ceremony.

Greg Baker was born and raised in Gainesville and got his bachelor’s degree in education science.

He recalled the exact moment he found out his initial graduation was cancelled, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was like dang this is kind of what I worked for and I’m not going to be able to celebrate with my family, my grandma, my grandparents and everything,” Baker said. “It feels good to graduate and walk today, we did it, we made it. God is good.”

UF held 11 graduations for the 2020 class with roughly 200 graduates at each one.

Related story: In-person graduation ceremonies to return to the University of Florida

Grad school is next for Baker, as he is still deciding between UF and a job offer from the University of Oklahoma and his mom, Tiffany Pineda, was proud of his accomplishments.

“I’m very cognizant of all the statistics around black males so to be able to see my son smash all these goals, I am honored, I’m humbled, I’m blessed and I am so grateful,” said Pineda

With a bachelor’s degree in Biology, Kimberly Ngo is still studying at UF in the college of pharmacy and said this moment was unforgettable.

“I really missed being on campus, so coming back and seeing all my classmates again and recognizing the names on the screen and seeing them in person is exciting and i’m glad to be back,” Ngo said.

While 2020 graduates had to wait a year for this experience, they say when it came to walking across the stage, the decision was a no brainer.

“I was definitely excited and was like there was no question about it, take off work, whatever you got to do we are going to this graduation,” Baker said.

Ngo said if she could go back, she wouldn’t change a thing.

“I’m glad how things turned out,” Ngo said. “I don’t regret it all.”

No matter where they are, the graduates say the University of Florida is still home.

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