US Airways Arena was a tearful venue for more than 10,000 proud family members and friends who came out to witness about 600 students get degrees during Bowie State University's 131st graduation exercises.

"A degree is not just for putting on a wall or putting on a resume. A degree is for putting into action," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman, the commencement speaker. "Don't let others carve you in; don't let others draw your boundaries," she said.

Wendell M. Holloway, Bowie State's interim president, praised all the graduates and honorees, but he called graduate Geraldine Morgan Capehart to the stage. Capehart is one of 18 children from a Florida family, and she was born prematurely and blind in one eye. She received an English degree.

Holloway gave Capehart's mother, Annie Morgan, of Marianna, Fla., the school's Medal of Excellence because after she and her husband, Walter, raised their children on a 35-acre farm, she finished her high school education and received a college degree.

CAPTION: Chanel Robinson, right, hugs her friend Tonette Farmer after they received degrees at Bowie State University's commencement.

CAPTION: Graduate Geraldine Morgan Capehart hugs her mother, Annie Morgan, to express her appreciation.