By Jasmine Payoute

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — On Wednesday night, adult students finally received their diplomas after going back to school. Some overcame the pandemic and much more to get to this moment.

It is a milestone years in the making.

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“This is the first, citywide graduation in three years; let’s hear it for you,” Christine Piven, Executive Director of Adult Education from the Office of Children and Family, said.

Nearly 200 graduates of all ages, from all backgrounds, walked across the stage to get their high school equivalency certificate, or GED diploma.

“I know all of y’all sitting out here have went through some complications and some trials and tribulations,” a graduate said.

Messages of hope echoed throughout the Dell Music Center Wednesday. The ceremony celebrated the classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022 after it was delayed due to the pandemic.

“Think about it, you got your diploma in the pandemic. That is hard,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.

These adult graduates carried with them, stories that are as inspiring as they are heartwarming.

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“Today means an accomplishment, the biggest accomplishment of my life so far. I’m doing this on behalf of my mom and my son. That’s what I came here to do. My mom passed away from cancer in January of 2021, so I’m here to celebrate and show her my accomplishments. I know she looking down on me,” Karliya Porter said.

“I’m just grateful to be here, to walk across the stage for my son, so he can see that furthering your education means a lot and it can get you far in life also,” Courtney Hutchins, another graduate, said.

With their gowns on and certificates in hand, some say their future plans are already set

“Oh my God, it’s a dream come true,” a graduate said.

While David Washington, another graduate, added, “And after this is done I’m gonna be in broadcasting school in 2023.”

Others embraced the endless possibilities.

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“It could be a number of things,” Piven said. “Getting the GED is one step of many for wherever they wanna do next.”

Jasmine Payoute