For classmates Farrah Nepia and Georgianne Crawford graduation has marked the end of a long journey.
The pair received their Bachelor of Nursing degrees at the Waiariki Institute of Technology graduation ceremony yesterday.
Ms Crawford said without the support of her good friend Ms Nepia, and other classmates in her tutorial group, she could not have made it as far as she did.
"We had our challenges but we supported each other, not only in study and learning but with personal things.
"We uplifted each other so we could get here today."
Ms Nepia said the nurses in their tutorial group were very tight and all helped each other get to the end of the degree.
"The course was a lot more holistic for us. We grew a lot as people."
The two friends, who met on the course, are both mums and had their children on hand yesterday to celebrate their graduation.
"It was often hard on the family, coming home late and those kinds of things, so we owe this to them," Ms Nepia said.
The pair are now registered nurses and have jobs in the health sector.
Alongside them were about 550 other Waiariki Institute of Technology students who were also celebrating success in their studies.
The graduands gathered at the institute in the morning to be farewelled with a powhiri.
And after that, they moved to the City Focus to begin their graduation march through town at noon.
The march took the students down Tutanekai St, then turned onto Arawa St.
The graduation ceremony and presentations were held at the Energy Events Centre after the march.
The most popular course represented at the ceremony was the Bachelor of Nursing, with more than 200 students graduating from the course yesterday.
Waiariki Institute of Technology was opened in Rotorua in 1978, under the former name Waiariki Community College.
The institute has more than 7000 students with campuses based in Rotorua, Taupo, Whakatane, Tokoroa and Tauranga.
- Students receiving a certificate wore a gown only.
- Students receiving a diploma wore a gown with a gold-coloured stole, similar to a scarf.
- Students receiving a degree wore a coloured hood or cape over the gown, with different colours representing the following:
Gold - Bachelor of Tourism Management
Jade - Bachelor of Nursing
Red - Bachelor of Maori Development
Purple - Bachelor of Applied Science
Coral - Bachelor of Computing, Communications and Technology
Burgundy - Bachelor of Applied Management
Cobalt blue - Bachelor of Teaching Early Childhood