HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The energy was high at Southern Miss on Saturday as the class of 2010 prepared to close the college chapter of their lives.
"I feel very honored to be a part of the centennial class and we're really excited because we've all been working really hard for the past four years and it's finally coming to an end," said Tasia Poyadou.
"It's just an honor to be here for the one - hundredth anniversary, and I'm just glad I could be a part of it," said Daniel Steadham.
The commencement featured graduates from both of the university's campuses and a crowd of around 15,000 family and friends gathered in the stands to cheer on the class.
"It's exciting, and I'm stress relieved right now. I've taken my last final and I'm ready to graduate," said Audrey Miller.
The centennial commencement also featured an address on crisis leadership by former NYC mayor Rudolph Giuliani. He also received an honorary doctorate from the university.
"It's real honor to participate in the 100th anniversary of a great school like this that has educated so many people that have contribute so much to the Southern Mississippi region and to the country," said Giuliani.
During a news conference with local media, Giuliani said in light of the recent disasters that have impacted the gulf coast such as hurricane Katrina and the current oil leak, Southern Miss's class of 2010 has already received specialized crisis training.
"I think that builds character," said Giuliani. "It builds certain lessons in you that you can use later on when you are in a crisis in the future."
Giuliani said because of those disasters, USM students have great strength.
"I wanted to give them a few things that they can use to focus that," said Giuliani. "having strong beliefs and being an optimist, understanding the courage they have, preparation; I think they have a lot to contribute as a result of the difficulties they've had to go through."
Each member of the class of 2010 also received commemorative medallions and their diploma covers will feature the centennial seal.