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The crowd erupted in loud cheering, chanting and clapping, waving their arms, and jumping up and down with excitement as Lincoln University graduates walked the stage Sunday.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, commencement events were spread over three days with five different ceremonies.

Graduates from the University's Social and Behavioral Sciences program within the College of Arts and Sciences were honored Sunday in a ceremony at Richardson Fine Arts Center.

Through their degrees in criminal justice, psychology, sociology, social work, history and political science, these graduates strive to make a difference.

Lt. Damon Nunn, of the Lincoln University Police Department, earned a master's degree in sociology and criminal justice with the goal of moving up in ranking and someday becoming LU's next police chief.

Growing up in St. Louis, he didn't have the best experiences with police officers, he said. When he saw a family member become a police officer and make a difference in his community, he decided to follow in his footsteps.

"I'm a young city boy, but coming to Jefferson City, I felt like I could make an impact here at Lincoln University, so that's why I came here," he said.

One of his goals as a law enforcement officer is to establish positive relationships and connect with the community as much as he can.

"Even though I'm an officer and my job is to enforce the law, my job is also to connect with my community and help them feel safe in their community," he said. "That's one area I want to bring to the table."

Mykia Chaney, who earned a bachelor's degree in social work, said she wants to use her degree to make a change by working with women who are victims of domestic abuse.

"I want to help those women because a lot of the time, they end up being killed because they were searching for help and didn't get the right help," she said.

Kenadee Brown earned a bachelor's degree in psychology with the goal of becoming a therapist or neuropsychologist to help those who are struggling mentally.

She decided she wanted to go down this career path a few years ago as a Lincoln University student. She said it feels "great and stress-relieving" to have earned her degree after so much hard work and determination.

Shyraah Brown, who earned a master's degree in sociology and criminal justice, said it feels amazing to have earned her master's as a mother of four after all the hard work she put in.

Her goal now is to make a difference as a criminal investigator.

"I think it's time for a change, especially with African Americans," she said. "The recidivism rate is so high, and I feel like everyone deserves another chance, so if I can get out there and help the ones who need to be helped, that's what I want to do."

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