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NAPERVILLE, Ill. – A big day in Naperville Sunday for more than 600 graduates of North Central College.

While some have been waiting longer than others, hundreds of graduates celebrated a moment years in the making on Mother’s Day. For Samantha Sowa, the occasion was the exclamation point on a long road traveled. At the age of 11, Sowa says she was diagnosed with cancer.

The cancer survivor celebrated becoming the first college graduate in her family, earning a Bachelors in Science and a perfect GPA.

“I’m just so grateful I was able to partake and land my dream job out of college,” she said.

Samantha Sowa

The day was the “best gift” for Sowa’s mother, who called Sunday’s events emotional and wonderful.

While Sowa is part of the 2021 class, joining Sunday’s ceremony were graduates from the class of 2020 who never got their opportunity to walk across the stage because of the pandemic. But with masks, social distancing and some good weather, on Sunday, everyone got their chance.

“I’m just looking at the positive that I’ve been able to walk across the stage,” Sowa said. ” So I’ll take any protocol they throw at me just so we could walk and celebrate this special day together.”

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