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Storrs - Brian Peterson and his family waited in a long line Sunday afternoon for their turn to take a few photographs with Jonathan, the famed Husky statue in The Thomas and Bette Wolff Family Park outside Gampel Pavilion.
Like many of the thousands of other students walking about with caps and gowns at the University of Connecticut Sunday, Peterson said it's been an awkward couple of weeks.
He's danced between emotions of excitement and apprehension. Life is moving forward. But ultimately, after receiving his degree from UConn's School of Business, Peterson, 22, said Sunday's graduation was a good way for his college journey to end.
"It's a capstone of your entire experience here," said Peterson, who is from Worcester, Mass. "Everyone has had their own little different adventures coming through."
Quite different, for some.
Take Maya Moore and Kemba Walker, for instance. The two UConn basketball stars were on hand Sunday to receive their degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences graduation.
They both propped up ceremonial flags in Gampel Pavilion, as other students marched to their seats with "Pomp and Circumstance" emanating from the fingertips of organist Angela Salcedo.
Once the Liberal Arts commencement got underway, Provost Peter J. Nicholls reminded graduates that, "You're always a Husky - no matter where your experiences take you." That comment drew strong applause.
Commencement address speaker Cyrus Ernesto Zirakzedeh then took the podium and addressed the graduates. An associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a political science professor at UConn, Zirakzedeh recounted a childhood and youth that saw him struggle to understand many social relationships, he said.
For example, he told one story from his college days in which he asked a particularly beautiful member of the softball team for a date. She turned out to be a lesbian, leaving Zirakzedeh humbled.
"How narrow my views were," he said, grinning as the audience broke up in laughter.
After this anecdote, Zirakzedeh then urged graduates to continue reading and interpreting views and opinions from other people - and other times and places.
"It's what makes my society beautifully dynamic," Zirakzedeh said.
According to school officials, more than 30,000 students are enrolled at UConn. This weekend alone, the university awarded more than 7,000 degrees, the school said.
Marcos Ramos, 22, earned one of those degrees. Standing outside Gampel Pavilion Sunday, he said he would graduate with a bachelor's degree in sociology with minors in psychology and women's studies.
One of the first in his family to attend college, Ramos said he made the commute from Bridgeport to UConn's Stamford campus for school each day. That made Sunday even sweeter.
"I'm trying to be reserved," Ramos said, smiling. "It's a trial, and now I'm going to the next step, moving toward a career."
Here is a list of graduates from southeastern Connecticut:
Baltic: Carl Edward Douville, Cecelia Marie Lane,Megan Anne Lynch, Daniel S. White
Canterbury: Sasha Marie Diederich, Charlee Rae Glennon, Nathaniel Bryce Johnson, Daniel Theodore LaPointe, Katherine Marion Mercier, Caitlyn Mae Orlomoski, Andrew Porter-Price, Taylor Elaine Roberts, Courtney Marie Waskiewicz
Colchester: James Paul Alvarez, Liza D. Annelli, Stephen Fenton Bohara, Danielle Elizabeth Bossie, Michelangelo Antonio Ciccone, Tamara Lee Cintron, Gregory Herold Dressler, Sarah Fournier, Zachary Jacob Gortler, Brittany Dana Larsen, Jennifer Melissa Larsen, Katie Elizabeth Lazuk, Kristina Marie Malits, Ryan Henry Mednick, Julia Kristina Olczyk, Joshua Michael Roy, Michael Francis Ryan, Michelle Elizabeth Shukis, Kimberly Anne Smith, Jocelyn Ann Starzyk, Stephanie Jacqueline Twedt, Thomas Charles Veneziano, Melissa Ann Weaver, Daniel Joseph Zbin.
East Lyme: Michael Chen, Ariel Sinclair Drew, Ankita Jain, Joseph Andrew Keller, Patricia A. Lannon, Justin Thomas Maher, Scott Thomas McColl, Heather Jane McHugh, Sarah M. Perkins, Victoria Louise Pryke, Lindsey Erin Rasie, Dugan James Reagan, Samantha Grace Robinson, Brianna L. Simmons, William James Simons, Rakhee Avinash Thombre, Julie Frances Tibbetts, Amanda Lynn Updyke, Lauren Elizabeth Young.
Franklin: Marissa Kelley MacDonald.
Gales Ferry: Jessica Leighton Brouwer, Jennifer M. Carroll, Christine Colella, Anna Marcoux Deneka, Charles Frederick Haase IV, Christopher Lee Hooper, Dayne Andrew Laskey, Margaret Lynn McCarthy, Samantha Grace McCarthy, Kathleen Anne Muckenhirn, Kyle C. Nelson, Ryan Piggott O'Connell, Ryan Piggott O'Connell, Kaitlynn N. Richmond, Nathaniel George Salter, Laura Ann Servedio, Tara Marie Stockmon, Kelly Ann Sullivan, Annette Kae Viall, Heather Marie Wilbur, John Paul Yetter.
Griswold: Jessica Marie Arremony, Katherine Amanda Bentley, Seth John Burzycki, Nicole Marie Creaturo, Heather Marie DeRico, Elsie A. Johnson, Kristina Marie Kiley, Amy Dawn McShane, Kelly Beth Rock, Laura Ashley Vargo, Michael Paul Willis.
Groton: Justin Charles Barnhill, Jennifer E. Bradley, Edward Anthony Burke, Ande P. Burns, Stephanie Marie Cornell, Kurt M. Dietrich, Stephen Richard Finucane, Lynley Elizabeth Gates, Lynley Elizabeth Gates, Dante Jordan Gonzales, Leah F. Hendriks, Ashley M. Hudson, Shiva Subramanian Iyer, Chad Ryan Jens, Ryan Allen Martin, Joseph Henry Martinez, Jessica Lynne Palladino, Stephanie Mary Papandrea, Victoria Anna Patrick, Michael Francis Pelletier, Michael Gerard Penrose, Allan Duyan Rato, Heather Christine Richter, John Dennis Rollins III, Dayne Edward Rugh, Rachel Troy Smith, Peter Gabriel Tramont, Alice R. Vargas, Tacha Leonor Wasilewski.
Jewett City: Jonathan Joseph March, Jonathan Joseph March, Sima S. Patel.
Lebanon: Rebecca Ann Corso, Will Thomas Faustman, Cassandra Leighton Leone, Kathryn Ann Macauley, Tanya Beausoleil Michnevitz, Kaitlin E. Pannone, Brittany L. Pestey, Benjamin Zachary Peterson, Ashley Irene Troy, Erik Amos Willett.
Ledyard: Brian John Albanese, Rebecca Krystyna Atkins, Natalie Ann Bajorin, Brittany Anne Banning, Joel Alan Burnett, Stephanie M. Frye, Stephen Arthur Hamel, Cory Michael Hollis, Benjamin David Jack, Nathan A. Krakue, Kimberly Michelle Mazzone, Jennifer Ann Pellowski, Brian Jacob Schwab, Amanda Lynn Tunucci.
Lisbon: Kathleen Crystal Celotti, Justin Joseph Loura, Lyme Kristen Dimock Becher, Brett M. Egri, Megan Elizabeth Zabilansky.
Montville: Gregory James Creamer, Christina E. Frausini, Benjamin David Jacobowitz, April A. Kozlowski, Michael Dennis Lajoie, Elizabeth Katherine Morgan, Craig Joseph Osborn, Amy M. Oulundsen, Emma Marie Savitsky, David Jon Stockford, Crystal Jean Taylor, Michael Francis Tyszkiewicz, Eric Daniel Walsh, John Patrick Watterlond, Tristan Edward Winkler, Jun Xian Zhu.
Mystic: Michael George Andrias, Phillip Anthony Brown, Brandon Robert Clark, Hannah Marie Drake, Raymond Joseph Filosa, Dylan Seabrooke Gardner, Tyler Carl Haling, Rodd Lawrence Johnson, Jennifer Lynn Johnson, Brittany E. LeMontagne, Elizabeth Anne Littlewood, Andrew Ryan McKay, Samantha Ann Moffett, Jon Matthew Paige, Timothy Harold Plungis, Daniel John Royle, Diane Marie Smith, Elizabeth Jean Thompson, Thomas Roessner Thorndike.
New London: Jacob Dilauro Andrews, Jessica Lynn-Erika Anilowski, Erin Mary Bartholomew, Courtney M. Bitters, Jan Anders Brinkerhoff, Emilio Jonas Cepeda, Dante Joseph Fabre, Raegan Garside, Sarah Elyse Keating, Saryn Kunajukr, Lisandri Kutrolli, Julia E. Otero, Hetul S. Patel, Anna Maye Sofia, Ian C. Thomas, Anastasia Triandafillou, Jayna Velez.
Niantic: Amy Nicole Blodgett, Alicia Marie Bongo, Cara Elizabeth Bongo, John Vincent Carlson, William J. Clark, James Paul Jarboe Jr., Patrick Stephen Libby, Julia Jean Polland, Mikaela Ruth Rando, Allen Joseph Reinhart, Matthew Taylor Rovero, Alexandria Claire Stone, David Warren Styren, Adam Richard Werner, Caitlin Andrea Zito.
Noank: Justin Andrew Trout.
North Stonington: Matthew Curtis Beacham, Carly Rae Buehler, Christopher Thomson Colgan, Thomas Henry Durham, Katherine Alayne Ivey, Elisa Rose Lathrop, Daniel James Milligan.
Norwich: Thomas Richard Abele, Justin Joseph Baillargeon, Mary Banh, Katherine Elisabeth Bradbury, David Sterry Brine, Kalie Anne Siobhan Buchman, Danielle Renee Caron, Aisha Nadine Celestin, Momena Hossain Choudhury, Michael R. Daglio, Jessica Elizabeth D'Auria, Christopher Paul DeLucia, Aileen Frances Depot, Ashley Kristin Deveny, Anthony Edward DiGangi, Jessica Suzanne Dussault, Micah Robert Evans, Sherzod Michael Frishman, Julia A. Gorham, Shahela Haydar, Andrew Hu, Kevin Leland Job, Candace Marie Jones, Titus Ibrahim Kanu, Jeanne M. Kurasz, Daiyi Liu, Conway Ma, Seth Aaron Megargle, Courtney Marie Moody, Jennifer Marian Olson, Gabriel Ouellette, Ravi S. Patel, Yevhen Rutovytskyy, Jon Andrew Stewart, Daniel Vincente Tavares, Monal Atulkumar Vaidya, Jessica Wang, Ryan Scott Wilson, Tilus Yiusing Wun, Huawen Zheng.
Old Lyme: Katelyn Arruda, Sarah Pierson Carlson, Zachary Michael Cohen, Adam William Janicki, Lindsey Edith Mica, Jesse William Rando, Daniel Sullivan Tyler, Richard Lawry Wilkman, Keefe Dennis Wojcik,Old Saybrook Jacob Cooper Anderson, Joseph James Evola, Andrew P. Gibas, Stephanie Anne Massini, Mark Thomas Meotti, Alexandra Elizabeth Moore, Ram Bhima Odedra, Margaret Aldea Rose, Sheri Lynn Smith, Christopher Joseph Thouin, Dee-Ann Wierzbowski, Jillian W. Phelps.
Pawcatuck: Zachary Thomas Binkowski, Bethany Anne Laing, Lydia Jean Larrea, Aimee Lynn Matteson, Ryan Christopher Menner.
Plainfield: Michelle Brouillette Bold, Crystal Elizabeth Fontaine, Michael Kenneth Knight, Jordin Lee Soler.
Preston: Michael John Good, Adam Michael Lambert, Trevor Paul Schulz.
Quaker Hill: Meredith Ann Jarvas, Ghaffar Mahmood, Claudia Mejia, Amanda Marie Weiss.
Salem: Emily Marie Casciano, Colleen Faith Dolan, Matthew Brent Jacobsen, Matthew Brent Jacobsen, Jonathan Charles Miller, Sara Ashley Muldoon, Sara Ashley Muldoon, Michael Joseph Sullivan.
Stonington: Andrew Mark Ammirati, Lisa Marie Coleman, Efmorfia Efthimiou, Efmorfia Efthimiou, Sara Marie Franklin, Tyler Drew Murphy, Francis Patrick Murphy III, Melissa Raquel Ramirez, Christina Sharron Stockford.
Taftville: Christopher Michael Cote, Jonathan D. Osborne.
Uncasville: Lilian Chen, Elizabeth Ann Clemmons, Julianne Marie Joyce, Michael W. Kwok, Lun Li, Nicholas Saul Mann, Ryan O'Connor, Jessica J. Parrell, Patricia Maria Sandoval,Voluntown Sandra Diane Bills, Katherine K. Lowenstrom.
Waterford: Melanie Ann Cairns, Emily Anne Cavalieri, Cheng Lucy Chang, Amanda D. Costanzo, Eric Charles Dyson, Lily Huang, Mikaela Ann Kurzawa, Christopher Michael Makepeace, Anthony Michael Orfitelli, Peter Joseph Orfitelli, Jordan Francis Ransom, Cheryl Lynn Risley, Lee Douglas Rocha Jr., Denise D. Smith, Andrew Scott Walter, Stephen Paul Welch.