By Bobeth Yates

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida International University held its first in-person graduation ceremony since the pandemic began on Saturday.

For many, the commencement is a sign that things are getting back to normal.

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“I wanted that diploma, I wanted to walk across that stage,” said 66-year-old Melinda Spitzer finally fulfilled the dream of a lifetime.

Spitzer was diagnosed with a hereditary spinal disease.

“Fast forward to April of 2020 and it’s time for me to walk across the stage, and I can walk!”

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“Five spine surgeries later, I’m going to walk across the stage and get my degree. I’m getting my degree.”

On Saturday, her dream deferred became a reality, as she was among 6,000 students to graduate this weekend as part of the school’s first in-person ceremony since the pandemic began.

Six ceremonies were scheduled. Each including a thousand graduates a sign to chairs set six feet apart on the school’s football field, all graduates and guests were required to follow COVID-19 guidelines including a strict capacity limit.

The move is part of a bigger trend of relaxing covid restrictions as more people get vaccinated.

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There are about a thousand students at each graduation, each of them have three guests, so that’s about 4,000 people. All required to social distance and wear a mask.