People wiped tears away from their eyes while graduation commencement speaker and country music writer Mike Reid performed his song "This Road."
"The road that you leave on can always bring you home," he sang while playing a piano onstage.
The majority of the 4,000 seats in the Jaffa Shrine Center were filled Saturday for the 2012 Penn State Altoona commencement ceremony.
Commencement speaker Mike Reid gives a thumbs up to the graduates during the 2012 Penn State Altoona commencement at the Jaffa Shrine Center on?Saturday
The graduates' parents had mixed emotions of happiness and sadness that their children have become adults.
Karen and Jeff Watt's youngest child, Elizabeth Watt, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree for environmental studies and will begin a job in Maryland this summer.
"Your job as a parent is over at a certain point - they are going to take care of themselves now. It's a pretty good feeling," Jeff Watt of Philadelphia said.
Whistles, cheers and applause emanated from the crowd for each of the 235 graduates as they stepped onto the stage to receive their diplomas.
Jeffery Stuby of Bellwood graduated as Candidate for Highest Distinction in the history and political science departments for his perfect grade point average.
"It feels surreal," Stuby said. "A lot has happened over the last four years. In the end, it's just a lot of fun."
Stuby has accepted a teaching job in Baltimore.
A beach ball floated among the seated, square-capped graduates at some lose points during the commencement, but all in attendance were captivated when Reid spoke.
Reid, an Altoona native and 1969 graduate of Penn State, gained fame as a Penn State football player. After graduating with a degree in music, he became a defensive lineman for the Cincinnati Bengals from 1970-74. After an outstanding career in professional football, Reid composed more than 30 hit singles for country music artists including Ronnie Milsap, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, and Tim McGraw. He released two albums from his solo recording career, charting seven singles on the Billboard Hot Country.
"The successful meaningful life is not that hard," Reid told Penn State Altoona graduates. "Work hard, tell the truth, keep the faith and look after one another-especially the last one. If you do that, then you will be more successful than generations that preceded you."
Penn State Altoona Chancellor Lori Bechtel-Wherry's personal message to the graduates was to act responsibly for the betterment of human kind and to use their acquired knowledge to be servant leaders.
Before graduates processed out of the Jaffa Shrine Center auditorium and into the next chapter of their lives they sang the Penn State alma mater - "For the glory of old State ... Dear old State, dear old State."