PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Bradley University’s Dec. 2021 graduates made it to the finish line in person, at the Renaissance Coliseum.

The first indoor, in-person commencement ceremony since 2019, leaders with the university said it was able to happen because of students’ ability to adapt and follow COVID-19 protocols.

“We’ve been very very lucky, because our students have followed the guidelines we’ve set forth for them, and we’ve been able to stay on campus another semester because they’ve done what is right,” said Renee Charles, Spokesperson for Bradley University.

She added, it’s been a tough road this past year, but it was a great feeling to finally be able to offer this in-person ceremony for students. She said the goal was to do so, safely.

“We’re back together, we made it, we did it, but we still have protocols in place, we are requiring masks for everyone, we’ve been very upfront with, if you’re not feeling well, please do not come,” said Charles.

Casandra Torres, a first-generation college student said it has been a journey getting to graduation.

“I’m the first one in my family to graduate, so a lot of mixed emotions, a lot of excitement,” said Torres.

She said going to college during a pandemic was not easy, but added, she felt like she and her peers helped get each other to their destination.

“It was a lot more stressful, it was overwhelming, but I think it showed us that we’re able to persevere through hard times, and the fact that I got to do that, we still got to be on campus at some point last semester, we were supporting each other and I think that’s really big,” said Torres.