After years of hard work, students at Albany State University walked across the stage Saturday morning.
Thousands of proud family and friends filled the Civic Center for ASU's Fall commencement.
This graduating class will be the last class to see ASU without the joining of Darton State.
Both faculty and students say the future is bright.
Draped in the traditional cap and gown, and topped with decorated caps, students welcomed the closing of a chapter at Albany State University's commencement ceremony.
"Our students have gone on to make such a massive change in the culture, especially in Southwest Georgia," said Kevin Scott, Associate Professor of English.
More than 300 students received their bachelor and graduate degrees.
Professors have watched them come in as hopeful freshman and leave ready to make a change in their community.
"I think the world needs voices like the ones ASU is putting out in the world," said Scott.
Students like Chelsea Basley, say it has been a demanding process, but a worthy journey.
"I never expected to be able to achieve so much while I've been here and I'm just so grateful," said Chelsea Basley, graduate.
2017 will ring in with change for ASU and Darton State College.
The two schools joining forces has been in the works for months.
Final approval came Friday.
The schools will become one on January 1.
"It's just taking the institution to it's next great level. Yes, it's the last graduation of the current version of ASU but ASU is going to live on and this merger will do nothing but give us greater opportunities for impact," said Scott.
Although it has been met with mixed emotions...some members of the class of 2016 feel that ASU is moving in the right direction and taking the next step needed to grow.
"We'll see the benefits of it very quickly. I just hope that students that were at Darton State and students here at Albany State will just come together and we can just all love each other," said Basley.