Friday was a day of firsts.

It was the first time in 70 years that USC’s commencement had taken place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum — complete with a lit torch.

It was also the first time that two separate graduating classes had shared a commencement. And it was the first time many of the graduates had seen each other in person in over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Here at USC, I am inspired daily by the courage and perseverance I see,” President Carol L. Folt said. “I’ve been deeply moved as I’ve watched you discover new opportunities to contribute and grow, even during these difficult times.

“Whatever its impact, COVID didn’t derail or defeat you, and it certainly didn’t define you. You wouldn’t let it, and we wouldn’t either.”

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The classes of 2020 and 2021 join for commencement exercises at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Photo/USC)