After all of the more than 200 White Mountains Community College students who participated in Friday's 47th Commencement had received their degrees, they beamed with pleasure and pride as they switched the tassels on their caps from one side to the other in a traditional ritual. Photo by Edith Tucker. (click for larger version)
May 21, 2014BERLIN — "Our abundant society too often wants to fast-forward past the hard work and to go right to success and then to keep hitting 'replay,'" said state Senator Jeff Woodburn of Dalton in his commencement address to the White Mountains Community College Class of 2014 on Friday evening, May 16. But Woodburn praised and congratulated the 200-plus students who sat in black caps and gowns in front of him for enduring it all — demonstrating perseverance and self-control, matched by the personal ambition — to earn an associate's degree or certificate.
"You've inherited a world that is tempted by excess, spoiled by a sense of entitlement and often denied the vital lessons of restraint, patience and hard work," Woodburn said. "But not here and not you — this is the gift of our land and our people in the North Country — you've walked on the old path and know the lesson well. By struggling to get by and through – you've learned to defer, prioritize, save, work and now... succeed."
Two student speakers, both from Berlin — Shannon Lavertu of Berlin, chair of the Alpha Kappa Chi Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and Student Senate President Cari Gosselin — represented WMCC's community of learners. Both dotted their speeches with references to specific professors, highlighting the importance of the faculty's teaching and mentoring role.
"It's hard to believe that I will be leaving the place I have called home for the past three years," said Gosselin, who plans to enroll this fall at SNHU. "However, I feel like I've learned enough to help me succeed in the real world."
WMCC President Kathy Eneguess awarded an honorary degree posthumously to the late District 1 Executive Councilor Ray Burton of Bath.
County Commissioner Mike Cryans of Hanover accepted the degree on behalf of Burton's three siblings — Mary Grimes of Columbia, Joan Day of Concord, and Stephen Burton of Hanover — and read aloud the letter the trio wrote for the special tribute.
Human Services Director Sara Sawyer of the Community College System of New Hampshire presented the prestigious Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence to Professor of Science Mary Orff.
Sawyer also presented program assistants Kathy Duchesne and Angela Poulin the prestigious Chancellor's Award for Service Excellence in recognition of the professional and customer-friendly work they did this year in the financial aid office.
Only Woodburn took public notice that WMCC's 47th commencement was the last at which Eneguess will serve as its president. After a decade in the post she is heading to a job, as yet to be defined, in Concord, working for the Community College System of New Hampshire.
The senator thanked Eneguess "for her service to this college, our region and this state; her contributions to move this college forward and connect it to the community will long be remembered in the history of institution."
Chancellor Ross Gitell, Ph.D, will appoint an interim president.
Three others also briefly addressed the pleased and proud crowd from the podium: Past Chairman of the Board of Trustees Claudie Mahar; Martha Laflamme, Vice President of Student and Community Affairs; and Dr. Fran Rancourt, Vice President of Academic and Corporate Affairs.
Torrential rains pounded the roof of the large white tent during the hour-plus-long ceremonies, but happily the skies cleared before the Recessional.
Soloist Ronald Goyette sang the National Anthem, and Travis Catello was at the keyboard.