COLUMBIA — Maureen Coughlin and Lela Danille Payne met early in their college experience while participating in a coed service fraternity together.
"I think we have blossomed into a nice little friendship," Payne said.
After Saturday night's College of Arts and Science commencement in the Hearnes Center, both are going their separate ways.
Payne is heading to Colorado to take a job in backpacking and whitewater rafting. Later, she hopes to join the Peace Corps. Coughlin said she hopes to visit Ireland soon to conduct research on Peace Studies, her emphasis area at MU.
Coughlin said she worries about missing her friends and staying in touch.
James Bjerke, who received his bachelor's degree in biological sciences Saturday night, said he will miss the people he met at MU as well, but he "is looking forward to being a grown up."
"I loved undergrad," Brian Thomas Gavin, who graduated with honors in chemistry, said. "I won't miss some of the coursework, but I will miss some of the people."
To open the ceremony, Arts and Science Dean Michael O'Brien introduced Chancellor Brady Deaton to the packed crowd.
Deaton acknowledged the importance of an Arts and Science degree, telling the crowd that three of his children went through the college and have led successful lives.
Deaton said the coursework the graduates participated in "instilled and sharpened" an "openness to learning."
"You've really just begun the process of learning," Deaton said. "It's a lifetime process."
Deaton urged the graduates to "stretch" their talents, "take risks" and "take the values learned at Missouri with you."
"Dream big. Do not set limits on your capabilities," Deaton said.
Gov. Jay Nixon, the commencement speaker, told the graduates their diplomas represent the fulfillment of the sacrifices their family and friends made to get them to this point.
Nixon said to honor that sacrifice, the graduates should do their best to make a positive impact as citizens.
"A humanities education is a magnificent gift," Nixon said. "A Mizzou education is a blueprint for a much grander structure." He told the students to fill the "cathedral of the mind" with "dreams and big ideas."
"The capacity to learn is infinite," Nixon said. "Never stop learning."
Nixon concluded his speech by telling the graduates the education they received at MU prepared them to "become global citizens."
"The future is in your hands," Nixon said.