Posted at: 05/18/2013 10:43 PM
Updated at: 05/18/2013 10:45 PM
By: Brittany Lewis
Four years ago, the University of Minnesota-Rochester started their first program. On Saturday, they celebrated a milestone—their first graduating class.
Graduation caps covered in glitter and messages to mom, crowned the heads of a group of trail blazers and risk takers.
"Part of it they told us they were of course gonna be the guinea pigs. But I was willing to go with that,” said Rasha Elnimeiry.
Elnimeiry was one of 52 students who were part of the first graduating class of the University of Minnesota-Rochester.
"It was close by home. I loved the program. They were starting the integrated program and I was excited to come be a part of the first graduating class in the university,” she said.
"It's absolutely a critical milestone for us,” said Chancellor Stephen Lehmkuhle.
29 of the graduates have been with UMR since the beginning; entering their freshman year as the university as starting their very first program.
"I think someone told me that you’re first class. It always going to be that special class. And you have to think about them four years ago when we were just sort of building it,” said Lehmkuhle.
"I was willing to take the risk to get the education that I wanted and I kind of took a leap of faith and it seemed pretty put together,” said Laura Traut.
"They were talking about the course work and the whole structure of all four years, so I went in knowing they had more than just the first year planned out, they were in it for the long term,” said Hannah Salk.
The students graduating with degrees in Heath Profession and Health Sciences are already planning their next steps.
"I'm planning to do an internship in Sudan,” said Elnimeiry.
"I want to go into medicine. I'm applying to grad school next month,” said Salk.
And paving the way for future students of UMR.
"They've had as big a role as anybody in determining the direction of our future University of Minnesota Rochester,” said Lehmkuhle.
57 students were part of UMR’s first freshman class. This year there were around 150. The school hopes to grow by 25 percent each year.