JOPLIN, Mo. — Missouri Southern State University is celebrating its newest graduates.

Today 686 students graduated during its two commencement ceremonies at the Leggett and Platt Athletic Center.

This was the first commencement MSSU has held in person without a mask mandate or social distancing since December 2019.

“I’m super glad that I get to have this kind of ceremony especially for graduating college. I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen, but I’m super excited that my family gets to be here and see everything happen. I’ve been part of the Advanced Medical School Acceptance Program. So after graduation I’ll head straight to KCU-Joplin Medical School and we start in July.” said Madison Nagel, MSSU graduate.

“To all of our graduates we are extraordinarily proud of you for the effort. Many of you have overcome obstacles during the pandemic and we know each of them is going to have a bright future,” said Dr. Dean Van Galen, MSSU President.

Today there were more than 20 Golden Grads in attendance, which means they graduated from MSSU 50 years ago.