PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Bradley University held its undergraduate commencement at the Peoria Civic Center Saturday.

This is the first unmasked graduation since the start of the pandemic.

Graduates have been anticipating this moment since they arrived at Bradley.

“I’m really excited I feel like its been a long but also short four years. It’s almost bittersweet,” Industrial Engineering graduate, Mitchell Sommer.

According to a recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers plan to hire 31 percent more college graduates this year than in 2021.

Some students said Bradley helped them get ready for the real world.

“Between my experiences in class and outside of class and work experience as well, I really feel like Bradley properly prepared me,” said Graphic Design Graduate, Ginger Batton.

While some students are eager to start their careers, others look forward to a break before furthering their education.

“Right now I’m applying to medical school well in June. I’ll have a year off before I get into it,” said Chemistry Graduate, Zalan Shah.

A graduate also had a piece of advice for all students.

“Keep an open mind and make sure you say yes to things sometimes you may want to say no and stay home but its really important that you get yourself out there and make those connections,” said Batton.