By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Temple University’s Class of ’17 was the largest in school history. More than 9500 students received their degrees at the Liacouras Center.

So many emotions for so many young men and women who, in the course of less than two hours, went from students to graduates to alumni.

“It feels awesome. Just awesome. It’s bittersweet, definitely,” said one new graduate.

“It was very surreal when they said ‘welcome to being an alumni.’ I still don’t think it’s hit me yet, though. I think it’ll probably hit next September when we’re not coming back to school,” said another.

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Temple grad outside the commencement ceremony. (credit: Paul Kurtz)

“I’m excited to be Temple-made. I’m Temple proud, it’s a wonderful school,” said one of the newly-minted alumni.

One of the graduates has already made his mark in this area. Blind singer Timmy Kelly received a bachelors degree in music, with a concentration in vocal jazz.

“I already have a band set up and we’re gonna go do gigs and events and hopefully write some original songs,” he said.

Temples 130th commencement featured the usual sage advise from faculty.

“Don’t count the days, make the days count. Work hard, get lots of exercise, reinforce friendships, and make new friends.”

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Temple graduates outside the Liacorus Center. (credit: Paul Kurtz)

And the bestowing of honorary degrees.

This years recipients – former Pennsylvania Welfare secretary Estelle Richman, and ex-Eagles Coach Dick Vermeil. You can call him Dr. Vermeil now.

“I’m excited because I miss coaching. I miss the opportunity to have a team in front of me and coach. But I’ve never had a team this big. Congratulations,” Vermeil said.

Vermeil also delivered the ceremony’s commencement speech.

“Recognize hard work is not a form of punishment, nor is fatigue an enemy,” Vermeil said during the speech.

It was vintage Vermeil at the podium, this time in cap and gown, preaching the familiar themes that made him a legendary coach.

“Your success today is not a reward, it is a consequence of doing all the right things right, for the right reasons, at the right place, with the right people,” he said.

Vermeil rattled off what he called common sense principals for leadership.

“Be sincere, tell the truth, be honest, how tough is that? To establish credibility you have to be honest. You have to be sincere,” he said.

Inspiring words for many.

“His advice was invaluable. It’s absolutely true. Everything I’ve seen in my mind at Temple goes along with what he said, about loving what you do and surrounding yourself with people you care about. It’s really what makes things happen,” said one graduating student.

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