By Barbara Tetreault of the Berlin Daily Sun (5/22/2012)
The largest graduating class in White Mountains Community College history received their diplomas Friday in an outdoor ceremony on a beautiful spring evening.
A standing-room-only crowd of family and friends cheered the graduates who were awarded degrees and certificates in programs ranging from applied technology and nursing to education and arts and sciences. The graduating class totaled 223 students. In her commencement address, guest speaker U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte used her own life story to urge the graduates to take risks and not to let mistakes prevent them from pursing their goals.
After graduating from law school, Ayotte said she went to work for a private law firm working on civil cases. But one day, a more experienced lawyer at the firm asked her to cover for him in court for the arraignment of what turned out to be a notorious federal criminal case. Ayotte said she realized she was in over her head and that even her client had more experience in a courtroom than she had.
But she decided to ask to assist on the case and when it was over, realized she wanted to become a prosecutor. Ayotte said she applied for a job in the state Attorney General's office. She didn't get the job but said she persisted and eventually got hired and worked her way to the top slot.
Ayotte said her experience taught her that what sometimes looks like a detour can actually be a path to finding your true calling. Pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone, she said, can help you find potential within yourself that you did not know existed.
Ayotte told the graduates that finding the right opportunities and working hard are only part of the puzzle.
"To truly distinguish yourself, you have to be passionate about what you're doing. It's tough to be good at something you don't like doing," she said.
To run for the U.S. Senate, Ayotte said she quit her position at attorney general a big risk for her because she would be giving up a paycheck for a year and a half. She also understood she would be subjecting herself to the difficult and at times bruising nature of campaign ads.
"I would tell you that in your life and in your career, you can't be afraid to take those risks in order to see what you're really made of and what you can accomplish," she said.
In her address, Student Senate President Marie Albee (photo left) said graduation was a testimony to the hard work and dedication the graduates had put into their education. "That dedication to our own education is a powerful thing: it suggests a commitment and respect for ourselves and it shows that we believe in ourselves," she said.
Phi Theta Kappa President Samantha Roy (photo right) said she was proud of her fellow graduates for not giving up along the way.
"What we have accomplished today will always be with us. This diploma will always represent our hard work and dedication to the secret of getting ahead," she said. The pregnant Roy joked that she had given the nursing students their first on-call job experience.
Awards: White Mountains Community College President Katharine Eneguess awarded the President's Award to the student with the highest grade point average in an associate program to Jasmine Montminy. Norman Carreau received the Newman Civic Fellows Award Chancellor. Ross Gittell awarded the Chancellor's award for teaching excellence to Donna Briere, associate professor in the medical assistant program and for service excellence to Katherine Doherty, Director of Learning Resources.