As Cheryl Fogle, Bonnie Knight, Amy Edwards and Andrea Williams straightened caps and draped their hoods, they were also finally matching up whose face went with whose online personality.
The women, who took all online classes, knew about one another through biographies they posted about themselves for a class. Some had even worked on projects together without ever stepping foot in each other's study space.
"We were looking at each others' cards to see who was who," said Fogle. "This is probably the cherry on the cake of our classes."
The women built connections through e-mails, in which they could seek guidance from others.
"The program definitely fosters a sense of community," said Fogle.
The women were part of the more than 300 graduates who participated in commencement ceremonies at the Convocation Center.
Dr. Nils Diaz, of Tampa, Fla., and past chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Denmark, S.C., artist Jim Harrison were awarded honorary doctorates during the ceremony.
Diaz, who delivered the commencement address, left graduates with a parting sentence that as a scientist, he took comfort in always being 100 percent correct: "Whatever you do not do will forever be undone," he said.