Hundreds of UND students dressed in black robes and caps decorated with paint and glitter walked across the stage of the Chester Fritz Auditorium and into the next stage of their lives Friday afternoon.

More than 800 undergraduate and graduate students were eligible to walk in this year's commencement ceremonies Thursday and Friday, while some joined online from across the country.

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Families, both on stage and off, cheered with pride as their grads' names were called out.

For two staff on stage it was also a special day as the daughter of Hesham El-Rewini, dean of the College of Engineering and Mines, and the daughter of DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UND Alumni Association and Foundation, also graduated.

El-Rewini hugged his daughter Zeinab close and gave her a kiss on the cheek as she accepted her degree in computer science. She is also receiving a degree in political science. Emily Zink accepted her degree in biology and professional health.

UND President Mark Kennedy told a story of a UND accounting graduate who had remarked that he was worried about going into accounting after he was able to file his taxes in just minutes. Kennedy said the student worried about whether some day accountants would be automated.

Kennedy told the student that as long as there were people like skilled accountants who understood the importance of data, his expertise would always be needed, even if bookkeeping becomes extinct.

"The times they are a-changin' and at an ever faster pace," Kennedy told graduates. "Your skills will only be in demand if you do what college grads are trained to do ... to keep on swimming or you'll sink like a stone."

UND graduate Theo Solseng, who majored in biology and professional health, said graduation day is an important day in his life.

"I'm moving on to the next part of life," he said, adding that he hopes that next part of life means going on to medical school.

Jill Louters, a member of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education, also addressed the room full of graduates.

"Your presence here today reminds everyone, your friends, family and certainly your professors that you succeeded at making the most out of the opportunities (you had at UND)," she said.