Texas A&M University-Central Texas, based in Killeen, celebrated its summer commencement Saturday in the Bell County Expo Center with a record 154 summer graduates.

The graduating class represents about a 5 percent increase above the number who graduated in the 2016 summer commencement.

Dr. Marc Nigliazzo, president of A&M-Central Texas, applauded the graduates for their accomplishments, noting that the university remains committed to addressing the degree shortage that still exists in the region.

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A&M Central Texas summer commencement

Sharina Hubbard, who is receiving her Masters in Education, waves to her family and friends that have come to the Bell County Expo to watch her and 150 others taking place in Texas A&M Central Texas summer commencement ceremonies on Saturday, August 12, 2017.

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A&M Central Texas summer commencement

Texas A&M Central Texas graduates shift the tassels from right to left during a summer commencement ceremony at the Bell County Expo Center on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.

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A&M Central Texas summer commencement

Texas A&M Central Texas professors watch as the graduates file past during the largest summer commencement ceremonies in school history at the Bell County Expo Center on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.

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A&M Central Texas summer commencement

Graduates listen to speeches by faculty during a Texas A&M Central Texas summer commencement ceremony at the Bell County Expo Center on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.

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A&M Central Texas summer commencement

Dr. Marc Nigliazzo, Texas A&M Central Texas Inaugural President, hands diplomas to graduates as they cross the stage during summer commencement at the Bell County Expo Center on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.

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A&M Central Texas summer commencement

From left, Jada, Ke'Xeon, Briana Alexander, Amber Wilson and Kita holding Cy'rie Alexander cheer as husband, father and friend walks the stage, receiving a Bachelors of Business Administration from Texas A&M Central Texas on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.

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A&M Central Texas summer commencement

Graduates form Texas A&M Central Texas have their portrait made after receiving their diplomas in a commencement ceremony at the Bell County Expo Center on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.

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A&M Central Texas summer commencement

Kevin McDowell who's receiving a Bachelor's in Aviation Science, added wings and turbine engines to his mortarboard prior to Texas A&M Central Texas' summer commencement ceremony at the Bell County Expo Center on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.

In 2010, A&M-Central Texas produced its first graduating class as 692 students crossed the stage with degrees in business, education, and the arts and sciences.

Now, eight years later, summer graduates bring the overall number of A&M-Central Texas graduates to 5,671, which may top the 6,000 mark by spring 2018.

John Crutchfield, president and CEO of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, praised A&M-Central Texas for its commitment to degree attainment, noting its partnerships with regional community colleges which drastically reduce the cost of the undergraduate degree.

“From an economic development perspective, it is a fact that, in a global economy, there is no more important asset than talent,” he said. “It is also a fact that the best resource for talent development in Central Texas is A&M-Central Texas. It’s accessible to everyone, ranked among the most affordable in the state of Texas, and the high quality you’d expect from an A&M University System institution.”

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