TYLER, Texas (KETK) — The largest graduating class walked the stage at Tyler Junior College on Friday, most emerging from the pandemic and now pondering their next steps as inflation continues to rise.

“It was interesting for everyone. I mean specifically it was hard,” said Micah Leary, Biology major.

Most of the students began their college careers in the heart of the pandemic, forcing them to overcome the adversities that came with it.

“I couldn’t been able to do it if I didn’t have people like Dave Funk in the honors program and if I didn’t have professors that I had that were encouraging me to keep going,” Leary explained.

However, Dave Funk said he didn’t do anything special. Rather, he claimed that these students had something special in them.

“Overcoming the adversities of the pandemic I think was really hard for everybody. I couldn’t be more proud of what they did and the adjustments they had to make on the fly. They are smart strategic tactically they are very thoughtful,” Dave Funk said.

Now that these scholars have walked the stage, some are advancing to universities while others are beginning their careers, facing the harsh reality of our country’s economy.

“Lucky enough I live with roommates cuz it’s impossible to live by yourself like this. I don’t work full time I’m lucky enough to have financial aid to get some of my bills paid for, but it’s been rough,” said Jordan Booth, General Studies.

They are entering the workforce as the country is crippled by skyrocketing inflation.

“Just day by day honestly. I’m working full-time and going to school full-time. So just doing that and car pooling with my friends because gas prices are crazy,” said Leary.

These students have persevered and will continue to overcome obstacles as they walk into new chapters of their lives.