"I have a child, a 4-year-old child and [I'm] graduating on time," said Morgan Timberlake, one of the graduating students. "Through hard work and all the obstacles, I'm just proud of myself that I didn't give up! "
That same pride was magnified in the stands as families and friends celebrated during Central's 123rd commencement.
The historically black university awarded more than 1100 diplomas to undergraduate, graduate and professional school students. We're told that is a record for NCCU.
But before students could get diplomas, they faced one more challenge: the heat.
"It's hot!" said Angelica Johnson. "It's like, it feels like a heat wave under here!"
She and her friend Tenika Neely have their eyes on law school, so Neely's not complaining about the heat.
"It could be worse!" said Neely, who earned a degree in political science and psychology. "The sun isn't blazing, so it's a nice day!"
And while other newly-minted Central graduates may face a stingy 2014 job market, Johnson said if she had to seek employment "I would use my sources and my networking."
"And I would try to get into nonprofit, and work my way up," she added.
But first things first: get out of those gowns, kick back and bask in the praise of people who, in some cases, traveled many miles to be there.