BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO)– College students across South Dakota are getting ready for graduation this weekend.

You can definitely feel the excitement across campus as students wrap up their final exams and get ready for graduation. This year, the ceremony is back to normal for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

For Roberto Penaloza Valencia, graduation is a time to reflect on his accomplishments during his college career. He is graduating debt free and with a 4.0 GPA.

“I’ve been waiting for the moment, May 7, graduation day,” said Penaloza Valencia. “It will be a cumulation and completion of a of a 4 year long objective that I’ve had for a long time, just being able to graduate from SDSU.”

Last year, students could only have 6 family members or friends attend the ceremony. This year, there are no COVID-19 restrictions.

“In the end, I just want to make my parent proud and set a good example for my siblings, so being able to walk up through that stage during graduation day just means a lot because it means that my parent’s dreams for me finishing college are fulfilled,” said Penaloza Valencia.

“It means a lot just because I am the first to graduate college in my family. So having them to be able to like experience that with me, face to face and like all the emotions and excitement going through all of us,” said Luann Miner, graduating senior.

This weekend, over 2,000 SDSU graduates will be will be walking across the stage in Frost Arena to receive their diplomas, surrounded by their family and friends.

“This is what we are all here for. It’s about getting those kids across that stage and celebrating with their families,” said Barry Dunn, president of South Dakota State University.

Coming together to celebrate this life milestone.

“I think just waiting those families pile in to Frost arena with grandmas and grandpas and little brothers and little sisters there’s just nothing quite like it,” said Dunn.

“It’s important for their family members and friends to be here to be able to experience all the emotions with them and then just have a big celebration afterwards,” said Miner.

For the state universities, graduation is this Saturday. SDSU has three of them.