UNC Charlotte commencement ceremonies honor students killed in campus shooting

UNC Charlotte commencement (WBTV/CBS News)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – For new UNC Charlotte graduates, that graduation means celebration.

“Oh, I’m just so happy,” graduate Emia Black said after she walked across the stage.

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It means happy tears.

“Because I’m the first generation to actually get a degree,” Crystal Andrade said.

But it also means a sense of loss.

“We’re celebrating such a big accomplishment, and not everybody can be here for that,” Wendy Jimenez said.

The graduates wore white ribbons on their green gowns Friday, in memory of the students killed in the on-campus shooting, just less than two weeks ago.

“I’d say it was a little bit different than most graduations considering the events that occurred,” said Reilly Becker.

At UNC-Charlotte’s Saturday afternoon commencement ceremony, Chancellor Phillip Debois said it is a time for celebration, but also to recognize the students impacted by the shooting.

“I think it was really important for us to acknowledge the victims and the people that sacrificed their lives and were involved in that tragedy in any way, shape, or form,” said one graduate.

Riley Howell’s 23 family members present at the graduation ceremony were honored for being there. His parents, siblings and girlfriend were brought on stage to accept a degree for Riley in memorium.

You can read more here about how some students injured during the shooting were able to take part in the commencement ceremony.