ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — About 70 Rock Valley College students crossed the stage Thursday, marking the first time certificate-earners were recognized with the honor.

Graduation ceremonies are typically reserved for students who earn a diploma, but money and scheduling constraints lead to many students opting to earn a certificate instead.

Welding instructor Bill Isham says it’s important to recognize these students as well.

“We didn’t get the ceremony, so I just kind of graduated and went right to work,” said Isham. “It’s kind of a relief and it almost kind of gives a closure to all of us that haven’t been through the same type of ceremony like that.”

More than 600 students earned certificates from Rock Valley College this year.