GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — This Friday, students of the East Carolina University class of 2021 will get to walk across the stage and accept their diploma for the first time in over a year.

With COVID-19 restrictions easing across the country, students are excited for a chance to celebrate their accomplishments in person with family and friends.

Joshua Daniels, Park & Rec Administration

For ECU senior Joshua Daniels, he said it felt like he wasn’t even in school this past year.

Although graduation ceremonies will be in person, they will still look a little different due to COVID restrictions. That’s one thing Joshua says is exciting but also a bit of a bummer with his friends graduating at different times than himself.

ECU commencement ceremony will celebrate the classes of 2020 and 2021 this Friday

Daniels’ after-graduation plans include starting an internship in Wilson in the next couple of weeks. He says he hopes to get some real-world experience under his belt, and then might consider coming back to ECU for grad school. His advice to current ECU students?

Use the resources available to you. That is something that I have been able to see over the years coming here, I didn’t use as many as I probably should have. The Writing Center is a very useful resource, we have many others on campus like a place where you can have your resume looked at. People really don’t think about it, but they really help you professionally develop yourself.

Joshua Daniels, ECU Class of 2021
Kaysie Wilt, Psychology Major with a minor in Alcohol and Drug Studies

Kaysie Wilt is graduating with a major in Psychology and a minor in Alcohol and Drug Studies. After graduation, she will join the University of Pittsburgh’s Social Work Program to work on her master’s degree.

Wilt said this past year was a lot more difficult because she, like many others, learn better in a classroom setting. She said not being able to see people’s faces and work together and make study groups was tough.

It’s a lot easier to procrastinate when you have online classes, and I definitely did my fair share of that this semester. But making a schedule to say, ‘I’m going to do this this day, and this that day,’ that really helped me a lot.

Kaysie Wilt

Wilt said if she could say one thing she would say, “People underestimate ECU as a university. This place has allowed me to grow and change for the better, and I honestly feel prepared to become a social worker and change lives.”

Mary Regeis, Nursing

For graduating nursing major Mary Regeis, the past year had its ups and downs.

When labs and clinicals were cancelled for nursing students at the start of the pandemic, Mary said her and classmates were nervous.

“Like what are we going to do, we need that hands-on experience,” Regeis said. “Nursing is something you very much learn not just in a classroom but you really do need that hands-on experience and that lab time.”

Regeis said she’s grateful to ECU that they were able to get back to clinicals as fast as they did. Without the support of her classmates, Mary said she doesn’t know how she would have fared.

I’m very grateful honestly to my other classmates because if we didn’t have each other’s back and push each other, I wouldn’t have been able to get through school and class without them.

Mary Regeis

Regeis said the best advice she can give is to find your support system. Whether it be teachers, classmates, friends or whatever, finding a strong support system will get you through anything.

After graduation, Mary will move to Charlotte to work at Novant in the Cardiac Residency Program.