GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) --- More than two thousand students graduated from East Carolina University on Friday.
The Fall Commencement speaker was John Clark, a 1996 East Carolina University graduate and Senior Vice President of Sales Operations for Fenway Sports Management.
For graduating student Samirah McLaurin, it was a day she won't forget.
"This day means so much to me," said McLaurin. "I dedicated it to my youngest son who passed away last year."
Despite the loss, Mclaurin decided to keep striving for her goals.
As one of the oldest graduates in the class, McLaurin offers advice to those who are younger.
"Keep striving to reach your goals," said McLaurin. "If you want that degree, that education, keep working toward it. Don't let anything get in your way or hold you down. Just keep reaching forward and get committed to getting that education."
Nursing student Stephanie Obasi said it's nice to have a day to celebrate their hard work.
"It's just so great to come out and finally get a job, have our education behind us, the community, it's so good," Obasi said.
Obasi is looking to help her community and already has a position waiting for her.
"I'm just going to go there and continue to use what I've learned from East Carolina to take care of the people around me, the people in my community, just better health for everyone," Obari said.
For doctoral candidates, like Donnell Brown, it's a milestone he's looked forward to sharing with his family.
"Great moment," said Brown. "Four years, working on this, did not think a young man from Tarboro, North Carolina, could make it this big and get a great degree like that."
Not only did Brown make it, he's also offering guidance for those who may be thinking about quitting.
"Pray about it, set your plan, set your goal and just keep going," said Brown. "Keep fighting, cause it's going to be times when you want to give up, but it has to be something that motivates you to keep going."
In Uptown Greenville, businesses readied themselves for the graduation rush.
Graduation is really huge for us," said Don Pittman, general manager at Winslow's Tavern. "It represents about a 50 percent increase of our volume on the day that we start graduation and kind of goes through the weekend."
Many businesses say they look forward to celebrations because it means a boost in revenue and introduces visitors to the Uptown district.