Hollins University graduates nearly 200 students

Published: May. 22, 2016 at 11:50 PM EDT
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Graduating women (and graduate student men) at Hollins University had sun shining for their commencement this morning.

Moms and dads had the cameras; their loved ones had the caps and gowns on the university's Front Quadrangle. Francine Harris was happy to see her daughter Jamila get a degree in international studies.

"It's been a very long, hard road," she said. "I am just so happy that she has stuck by it."

Jamila Harris said she intends to keep studying with hopes to teach English in Japan.

"[I'm] sad because everything I've known for the last four years is over," she said.

Former WDBJ7 reporter and ABC White House correspondent Ann Compton spoke to her fellow alumnae. She graduated Hollins in 1969 and told students they need to stay engaged.

"Please be engaged in the civic issues of our day," she asked. "That will make our society strong."

"Being a woman back then had distinct advantages," she added. "On the campaigns and on the air, I stuck out."

As these women forge their own trail, they'll keep that same Hollins spirit.

"Don't take no for an answer," Harris said.

Compton was introduced by her friend and classmate Suzanne Allen Redpath who recently retired after spending four decades working for CBS News.