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Northwest Missouri State University winter commencement took place Friday at Bearcat Arena in Maryville, Missouri.

MARYVILLE, Mo. — It was the end of a chapter for students graduating at the Northwest Missouri State University winter commencement.

Students and family filled Bearcat Arena in Maryville, Missouri. There were two ceremonies; the first at 10 a.m. for those receiving their bachelor’s degree, and the second at 2 p.m. There were 657 total degrees awarded.

According to a Northwest press release, the youngest graduate was 20, with the oldest being 50. Fifteen graduates earned the highest honor of summa cum laude.

The commencement speech was given by John Carr, Northwest’s 2020 recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education. Carr is an instructor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and the coordinator of the emergency and disaster management program.

Northwest President John Jasinski said it was special to see the students complete their coursework and look toward the future.

“What it means is that Northwest is all about excellence, performance excellence,” Jasinski said. “We talk about enrollment, retention, graduation and placement, and we’re proud of our graduates.”

Elementary Education Major Kristen McCulley said that she had a great time at Northwest and she is excited for her teaching career.

“I’m obviously really sad to be leaving,” McCulley said. “I’m excited to finally reach my long-term goal of being a teacher and going off into the real world and finding jobs and having my own classroom.”

Elementary education graduate Allison Fast said she will remember the friendly people and support at Northwest.

“I’ll remember how welcome I was here by the staff and all the students,” Fast said. “Northwest definitely made it feel like home to me, so that was a great experience.”

Clayton Anderson can be reached

at clayton.anderson@newspressnow.com. Follow him on twitter: @NPNowAnderson.