03/31/2014 12:56 pm ET

Older And Out Of Work, But Not Out Of Contention

Blend Images - Ariel Skelley via Getty Images

On Thursday, the 10 graduates celebrated over spoonfuls of yellow cake with chocolate icing. They hugged, cheered and promised to stay connected, fortifying themselves for the rough road ahead.

This was no ordinary graduation: The youngest to receive a certificate was 50. The oldest was 74. They had college degrees, decades of experience and had all savored sweet success in their careers.

What they didn’t have was work.

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