AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The largest public university in the state celebrated commencement today, with more than 7,000 students graduating from UMass Amherst.

UMass Amherst held their commencement ceremony with no public health restrictions since the beginning of the pandemic. Graduates were able to receive their degrees amongst a crowd of 20,000 family members, friends and staff. In 2021, commencement had many covid-19 restrictions and graduates could only bring two guests. They also had to be masked. 22News spoke with some graduates on their big day.

Brian Drakos, a UMass graduate said, “We’re excited to hear the people talk and you know a little family time. See the family, celebrate our accomplishments and celebrate with the friends that we came here with.”

Emily Przbyla, the undergraduate student speaker told 22News, “Our diploma is not just a piece of paper to hang on the wall, it’s a testament to your resilience and our success. It says I did it.”

Congressman Jim McGovern was this year’s commencement speaker for the class of 2022. McGovern has had a large impact on the college campus community, helping to increase federal Pell Grant funding for low income students.