The trees waved along with the families and friends as 2,000 students graduated in two ceremonies Saturday at Sonoma State University.
A steady breeze kept the tree branches swaying behind three sets of temporary bleachers as 1,000 students entered the commencement lawn for the 3 p.m. ceremony. Another 1,000 had received bachelor's and master's degrees Saturday morning.
The mood was festive and congratulatory to both the students and the families who had supported them. A few speakers at the podium encouraged applause for all the moms in the audience on the eve of Mother's Day.
"I love you, Mom," student speaker and theater arts grad Ashley Kimball said at the start of her speech.
The graduates join more than 58,000 alumni who have received diplomas from the Rohnert Park campus since it opened in 1961.
Before the ceremony, the black-gowned students lined up beside Stevenson Hall, the campus' oldest classrooms.
There, Kurt Martin and Zachary Hasbany, friends since high school, acknowledged that the day was special for the chance to see classmates and friends one last time before setting out on a new stage of life.
"It's the final get-together," Martin said.
Said Hasbany, "It's a little bit scary because we're facing the real world."
While Martin has a summer internship announcing games for a college baseball league, both intend to eventually move back with their parents near Morgan Hill and to seek jobs. Hasbany, who had lead roles in Sonoma State's 2012 production of "Oklahoma" and other community roles, hopes to save money and eventually return to school to study theater.