2021 graduates walk the stage Saturday at NC Central and Wake Tech

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A long awaited moment brought happy cheers to North Carolina Central University's McDougald-McClendon Arena on Saturday, as December graduates accepted their degrees.

Mohamed Barrie's grateful to his mother, wife and children for their support while he worked on his Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

"I moved here from Liberia, West Africa. I am a refugee originally and became a citizen. So yeah, it's been a long journey," said Barrie. "I am a nurse supervisor at Duke, I am a clinic nurse manager currently. So I am looking forward to stepping into the hospital setting, to work for a little bit to get more experience in acute care."

NCCU's commencement was one of two held Saturday in the Triangle. The other, at Wake Tech Community College, awarded diplomas and certificates to about 300 successful students at the Scott Northern Wake campus. Authorities mentioned pandemic concerns as the reason guests could not attend that ceremony in person. Instead, Wake Tech provided a live stream so family and other supporters of those graduates could watch from home.

Back at Central, most people inside the arena wore masks. And at a time when there's a need for more health care workers, Barrie is already employed and planning to pursue a PhD in the Nursing Practice next.

"My plan is to continue to grow, continue to learn, continue to study," said Barrie. "Continue to give back to my community and continue to help people to become healthy, because we are in a challenging world. We need to learn and to stay ahead."

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