NEARLY 400 students celebrated with family and friends as they received their qualifications at Charles Sturt University's graduation ceremonies on Friday.
From nursing to wine science, students from the Faculty of Science graced the stage to mark milestones in their lives.
Among the graduates were 57-year-old Dr Daryl South, who completed a Doctor of Philosophy in how a person's heart rate affects their decision making in stressful environments.
Dr South had served in the army for 25 years as a peacekeeper and engineering officer before embarking on academic research.
He said he became interested in improving soldiers' decision making in real-life situations after conducting mostly adventurous training while serving.
"Because I've been working in developing soldiers' capabilities to operate in a stressful environment in the army, I thought that maybe I can extend my research and trying to understand it better from an academic perspective," he said.
"It's then about coming up with some initiatives to try to improve that decision making in real life situations.
"It's quite crucial."
Dr South, who was based at Kapooka for about six years and is still a reservist, said it the degree was "well worth it".
"If there's something in particular you want to investigate, it's worth doing. It doesn't feel like that at times, but your thesis is something you should be proud of. I'm pretty happy with mine," he said.
During Friday's morning session, the university bestowed Wiradjuri elder Aunty Isabel Reid with an Order of the Companion.
In paying tribute to her, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor John Germov said Aunty Reid was an inspirational elder and education advocate.
Professor Germov also described her as "a great friend and a contributor to the success of CSU".
"The respect and admiration shown [to Aunty Reid] is evidenced by the impact she has had on the university and broader community," he said.
"She contributes to the learning of all of those who are fortunate enough to be present." The graduation ceremonies continue on Monday in the fields of science, arts and education.