LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Friends and families of graduates from Virginia University of Lynchburg braved the heat on Saturday to watch their loved ones celebrate their achievements during the school’s 131st commencement.

The procession began at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27 and recognized graduates from associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate programs. In addition, several notable figures came out to show their support and offer words of encouragement for graduates.

The superintendent of Lynchburg City Schools, Dr. Crystal Edwards, says the work of these students is just beginning.

“Now you have to do something with it, be that beacon of light for the next person, hold that door open, knock down those barriers, go out there and make a difference because we know they can,” said Edwards.

According to Edwards, many of the graduates came from Virginia University of Lynchburg’s Doctorate of Healthcare Administration program, which allowed hundreds of people from around the country to earn their doctorate degree in just three semesters.

Edwards says she was glad to be able to be a part of a ceremony that celebrates the students, adding that it’s a testimony to the hard work they have put in.