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A salute to the class of 2013

Nightly News' annual compilation of the most memorable commencement ceremonies and graduates from around the country.

By Katie Yu, Producer, NBC News

It’s one of our favorite yearly traditions here at NBC Nightly News: our salute to this year's college graduating class.

For the class of 2013, we reached out to more than 400 schools, attended 10 graduations, and sorted through hundreds of hours of footage to pull together what we think are the truly memorable moments from this year’s commencement ceremonies.

The focus has always been on the graduates themselves, but this year we shined a light on the families. An especially moving tribute by jazz musician Wynton Marsalis at the University of Vermont allowed us to highlight some of the special interactions between graduates and their loved ones.  

Click here to see pictures of grads from across the nation.

As exuberant and exciting as the celebrations were, graduates told us that their joy was tempered by loss. Their senior year was marked by the worst school shooting in history in Newtown, Conn.; the bombings at the finish line at the Boston Marathon; and most recently, the tornado that tore through Oklahoma.  Graduates told us that it was difficult not to reflect on national events as they enter the world beyond college.

Happy and proud graduates from the class of 2013 describe how they feel.

We were impressed by the thoughtfulness and the hopefulness of the students as they discussed the news events that shaped their last year in school. At the Ohio University commencement, President Obama challenged the class of 2013 to do better and to dream bigger. We have no doubt that they will all make us all very proud.

Producer Katie Yu and video editor Irene Trullinger would like to extend their deepest gratitude to the schools that shared their video with NBC News.