COLUMBIA — As "Pomp and Circumstance" played over the speakers, audience members stood, excitedly searching for their graduate, cameras ready.
It was difficult to hear the music over the clapping and cheering families who gathered Friday afternoon in Jesse Auditorium for the MU Sinclair School of Nursing's commencement ceremony.
Before the faculty and students entered, a young girl ran down a row of seats near the back of the room. "Grandma, mama's on page 13," she said as she smiled and held up one finger on one hand and three on the other.
Her mother, Michelle Matteson, received her doctorate at the ceremony and graduated alongside 70 other nursing students.
Of the 71 diplomas presented, seven were master's candidates and two were doctoral candidates.
Judith Fitzgerald Miller, the school's dean, commended the graduates seated before her, noting the honor of the nursing profession.
Nurses, she said, get to interact with people during major life events with "privileged intimacy." They get to experience the happiness of a mother holding her newborn, and the pain of illness and death.
"As a result, these nursing graduates have experienced a profound transformation," Miller said. "You've realized that you have the ability to change people's lives."
As each name was called, families celebrated in their own ways — some with air horns, others with applause.
When Kathryn Elkin walked across the stage, a surprise message from her father, who's currently serving in the Missouri National Guard, was read aloud. He apologized for not being there, before telling her he loved her.
Other students received their diplomas from mothers or sisters who'd graduated from the nursing school.