Ben Lopez said college graduation is a day he wants to remember for the rest of his life.
So much so that he entered Marcus Pavilion at Saint Martin’s University on Saturday with a GoPro camera strapped to his head.
“I want to make sure I remember every moment of it,” Lopez said. “I thought it would be a nice memento. But my mom’s not too happy I’m wearing it during the ceremony.”
The 22-year-old biology and psychology major from Yelm was one of 543 students graduating from the Lacey university this year. Spokeswoman Meg Dwyer said that’s a large class compared with recent classes of about 400 graduates.
Erin Reeves of Everett earned the title of valedictorian with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a 3.98 GPA.
She told the crowd that she began her higher education at Saint Martin’s University in 1980, but left in 1982 to earn an associate degree in nursing from Bellevue College. At the time, Saint Martin’s didn’t have a nursing program.
Reeves worked as a registered nurse for 30 years, and went back to school in 2012 to earn her bachelor’s degree. Saint Martin’s, now equipped with a nursing program, was the obvious choice, she said.
“It’s hard to believe that that same university I had left was inviting me back 30 years later to complete my bachelor’s degree,” Reeves said. “While we may not have started here at the same time, today we graduate Saint Martin’s together.”
Salutatorian Kailey Fuegmann of Federal Way graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a 3.94 GPA. She also played on the soccer team.
Most of the graduates said they have high hopes for their futures. Lopez wants to attend Georgetown University and study emergency management. He waited to enter the pavilion with Chris Walker, a mathematics major from Chehalis.
Next fall, Walker will attend the University of Louisville to earn a master’s degree in education. He also plans to work as a math teacher at a nearby school.
“I want to be a teacher, so getting my master’s is my next step,” Walker said. “I might as well just do it right away.”