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GRU's first graduating class

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Georgia Regents University held their first commencement ceremony since Georgia Health Sciences University and Augusta State University merged. Nearly 1,000 graduates received a diploma from a university they never anticipated.

The ceremony began with the traditional Pomp and Circumstance March but it was not just another graduation.

"I think everything is coming together," said graduate Beurena Johnson.  

It was a historic day for GRU, the first graduating class since the consolidation and to make the day even more special; Governor Nathan Deal had a message for the graduates.

"Conquer your fears, live courageously," said Gov. Deal.  

Governor Deal gave the commencement speech to graduates who have already overcome and conquered obstacles that came from the merger.

Graduates walked across the stage to receive their diplomas from nine different colleges, some received more than one.

"I'm getting an MCG diploma and a Georgia Regents University diploma," said Johnson.  

"We were the lucky ones, we got a commemorative degree from ASU and we also got a degree from GRU," said graduate Tonia Miller.  

However, everyone took home a degree from GRU, a reality that only brought smiles.

"It's a blessing, it's an honor, it's a privilege," said graduate Quentin Jackson.  

"Words can't really express how excited I am just to be done," said Miller.  

"It feels wonderful and I thank God, I really do," said Johnson.  

And there was a final message from the president of their new university and now alma mater.

"I congratulate each of you for successfully completing this phase of your education," said Dr. Ricardo Azziz. "We are proud to send you out into the world as our graduates."

Each of GRU's nine colleges also held separate year-end ceremonies before Friday's graduation.

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