Guest speaker U. S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, left, WMCC president Katharine Eneguess, other dignitaries, and full-time faculty members led 224 students toward a large tent in which the 45th commencement exercises were held on Friday evening at White Mountains Community College in Berlin.
Photo by Edith Tucker. (click for larger version)
May 23, 2012BERLIN — The sun shone brightly on the huge white tent in which Friday evening's 45th commencement exercises were held at White Mountains Community College. Two-hundred-and-twenty-four students of all ages received certificates and associate's degrees, with some earning two-year degrees.
U. S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, a Republican of Nashua, highlighted key lessons that she has learned during her professional career in her address to the graduates, their proud family members, including many children, and friends.
"Congratulations to the Class of 2012 and on what you've accomplished today," Ayotte said. The junior senator and former state Attorney General reminded those wearing black caps and gowns seated in front of her that they would not be there were it not for the support given to them by others.
At her own college graduation, Ayotte recalled, she had felt both excited and a little nervous.
"Graduation is a time when the future stretches out before you, not as a straight line but with twists and turns," she said, noting that it's how you deal with the detours and bends in the road that counts.
"Life can surprise you," said Ayotte said, pointing out that when she graduated from law school she had intended to go into a private law firm and make money, in part to pay off her student loans.
But, once at that law firm and following a brief exposure to a criminal case, she sought the opportunity to work as a member of a defense team in a federal criminal case and found that she really enjoyed the challenge of the courtroom. Ayotte left the private law firm to work in the Attorney General's Office to work as a prosecutor, but she admitted that she was not hired the first time she applied for the post.
"If you're turned down the first time at something you want to do, apply and apply again," she advised the graduates. "Just keep trying; keep pressing forward."
"When you discover what you care about, it doesn't seem like work," Ayotte said. "When there's passion, there is no limit to what you can accomplish!"
Public service — wanting to make a difference in people's lives — is her passion, she said. She became the first woman to be the state's Attorney General and later took a year-and-a-half off without pay to run for an open Senate seat. "This was taking a scary chance," Ayotte said, noting that running for a high-profile public office included harsh TV ads.
"Take risks," Ayotte advised. "Don't ever become complacent; step out of your comfort zone; find your true calling."
She told the graduates not to be afraid of making mistakes. "Mistakes are the one thing you can call your own," Ayotte said. "Again, it is how you deal with mistakes that count."
Student Senate president Marie Albee and Phi Theta Kappa president Samantha Roy represented the student body while at the podium, introduced by Frank Clulow, vice president of Academic and Corporate Affairs.
Katie Doherty of Dummer, WMCC Learning Resources librarian at the Fortier Library received the Chancellor's Award for Service Excellence from Dr. Ross Gittell, Chancellor of the state Community College system. Associate Professor, Medical Assistant Program Donna Briere of Milan was awarded the Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence.
Jasmine Montminy of Berlin, who earned her associate's degree in culinary arts, was presented with the President's Award from WMCC president Katharine Eneguess. A generation ago, her father also earned his culinary arts degree at the community college.
Norman Carreau, a dual major in accounting and business administration, was honored with the 2012 Newman Civic Fellows Award for his role in working with local businesses, college administration, and local volunteers to set up a Job Networking Opportunity Fair for WMCC students.
Department chairpersons awarded degrees and certificates: Lynn Davis, both Allied Health and Commerce and Industry; Allen Host, Applied Technologies; Pat Finnigan-Allen, Education, Arts and Sciences; and John Colbath, nursing.