LONDON, ONT. -- After four years of studies at Western University, Michelle Quaye is finally a medical school graduate.

"Actually being in the hospitals, in the public health unit and in the clinics, is where I knew with certainty that this is field is where I wanted to be," says Quaye.

The school year ended abruptly for Quaye and thousands of other Western students when COVID-19 hit. However, it was the pandemic that had Quaye putting her medical education to good use.

"We saw this as a really great opportunity to learn during the pandemic and to contribute our skills and our time so we were able to volunteer at the health unit."

It’s not the way Quaye, or the more than 7,000 other students expected to end their time at Western, but the school has been doing what it can to celebrate the well-deserving graduates.

"Our graduates woke up this morning with a personalized message in their inboxes from our president," says Jennie Massey, associate vice president of Student Experience at Western. 

"We have a day full of social media celebrations and we have mailed their diplomas all across the world, so they are opening those and framing them on their walls and sending out messages of congratulations to each other."

Massey says the university will do an in-person convocation with graduating students when it is safe to do so. 

In the meantime graduates like Quaye say although this has been a unique end to her studies at Western, she’s thankful for the time spent at the school. 

"I am so grateful to have been able to get to know so many people through medical school and I’ve made friends that I am going to keep for the rest of my life so I’m very honoured to be graduating with the class of 2020."