SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Thursday was graduation night for thousands of San Francisco State University students.
The commencement event was held at AT&T Park.
A large crowd of 35,000 people attended, which included family, friends and the new graduates themselves.
It was an event marked by pride and accomplishment for this Class of 2017.
A procession of 8,800 new graduates filed into the park to take their seats.
Many expressed a youthful exuberance and optimism for ending one chapter of their lives and starting on their next journey.
"I feel hopeful. yeah. All of us are here to have a better future," says Atasha Bozorgzad, an Iranian-American who says she's the first in her family to get a college degree in the United States.
She's far from being alone. Another student, Vanessa Arriola of Vallejo says her parents immigrated from Mexico.
She says she's concerned about the anti-immigrant sentiment expressed by some, but says she still sees hope.
"I'm afraid of the situation we're in. But once we hit a downfall, like everything in life , once you fall , you get back up, you smile, it's only going to get better," says Arriola.
Words of wisdom came from speakers at the podium including former student Peter Casey who went on to write and produce the television series "Cheers."
He is a honorary degree recipient as is singer Johnny Mathis who is also a former student.
Many new graduates say they are reaching for the stars...including one who received a degree in broadcast communications.
"I want to host my own show for a person of color narrative to get that mentality out there," says Dwayne Hibbert, a 22-year-old from Carson, California. He says he hopes his college degree will inspire his siblings.
Some expressed apprehension about the future.
"Some fears like not getting the right job, not knowing where to go, or if it's the right path," says Gilvin Pamiza who aspires to become a coach at his old high school.
Many say they worked while attending college, out of financial necessity and in part, to prepare for their career.
One grad says she's already working for the Giants and the Warriors because she wants to pave the way for a career in the sports industry.
"My dream job would be sports medicine working for the Golden State Warriors," says Kimberly Chank of Pacifica
For many in this Class of 2017, it took more than four years to earn a college degree.
They say they worked hard. Now, they say it's time to put their degrees to use.