Hundreds of graduates walked across the stage at UW-Stevens Point Saturday to accept their diplomas. For many, it was the celebration of four years of hard work, but for at least one student, it took several more years than that to earn a degree.
Eau Claire native Song Xiong started her studies at UW-Milwaukee seven years ago. After transferring to UWSP three years after that, she finally got to walk across the stage with the class of 2013.
"Oh, it's been such a long journey. I'm so excited," she told Newsline 9.
Xiong said she transferred to UWSP because of the dietetics program, but she didn't stop there.
"The year I was supposed to graduate, I declared a double-major in communications which pushed me back another year," she said.
Even though switching schools and changing her major caused her to spend more time in the classroom, she said those are decisions she's proud of.
"I've had a lot of support here while being here. My professors knew my name. They really wanted to see me succeed and here I am today," said Xiong.
Faculty and staff added that her accomplishments are impressive.
"She's just a fine example of leadership, so it's just really special to have those close connections with our students and then seeing them walk across the stage is extra special," said UW-Stevens Point Events Coordinator Brittany Rossman.
"I don't regret any of it at all and I see a bright future so I'm very excited," said Xiong, adding that she's not taking any of her college experience for granted. "I'm really glad I came here."
Xiong plans to continue her path to becoming a registered dietician this fall. That's when she will head to New Hampshire for an internship in that field.
School leaders said about 1,300 students earned degrees this spring. Two ceremonies were held Saturday to honor them.