MANCHESTER, N.H. (CBS) – For Katie Smith, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a learning experience in more than one way.

Smith, a nurse at Dartmouth-Hitchcok Medical Center, studied throughout the last year to finish her degree online at Southern New Hampshire University while also working on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic.

READ MORE: Chipmunk Wanted For 'Burglarizing' Pelham NH Police Department

Throughout the year, Smith floated to different hospital units while also submitting a final project on nursing burnout.

READ MORE: Police: Woburn Man Who Just Received License To Carry Accidentally Shoots Friend While Showing New Gun

Katie Smith is surprised with her diploma. (Image Credit: SNHU)

On Tuesday, Smith’s colleagues told her she needed to come in for a meeting at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. Instead, they surprised her with a ceremony, speakers and a diploma presentation. There was even a cap and gown waiting for her to put on.

Smith said she was “surprised and confused” by the festivities. She added that while she has plenty more to learn throughout her career, she knows the last year has been a learning experience unlike any other.

MORE NEWS: 9-Year-Old In Critical Condition After Being Pulled From Methuen Pool

“I’m definitely not the same nurse that I was when I started. I’ve grown a lot,” she said. Staff