CONCORD — At 10:00 am on Friday May 23rd, NHTI held its 64th Annual Commencement Exercises on the lawn behind Little Hall. The college offers 66 associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to more than 4,500 students annually. This year, NHTI awarded a record 614 associate degrees, including nearly 60 each in criminal justice and nursing, and over 75 degrees in general studies. This year’s class also included 29 veterans, and over 100 graduates in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).
In his opening remarks, Interim President Stephen P. Caccia highlighted a handful of this year’s graduates for special recognition.
Visual Arts major Michael Grady came to NHTI with an interest in designing prosthetics, and crafted a multidisciplinary curriculum for himself that ranged from biological science to welding. Michael will be attending Rochester Institute of Technology to continue his studies in Industrial Design.
Health Science major Crystal Marie Labrecque excelled in her English classes. Her short story “Blocks” has been accepted for publication in The Painted Cave, a national literary journal.
Sports Management major Daniel Ryan Sweeney was a four year letterman and captain of the men’s basketball team. He has overcome the social awkwardness brought on by his high-functioning autism to perform extremely well in the classroom and on the court. Ryan was a two-time recipient of the Jen Kemp Scholarship and numerous team awards, as well as an active participant in many campus activities.
Because of Amanda Phillips’ dyslexia, ADD and OCD, she was once told that she would be lucky to complete high school, and that she would never make it through college. But after her first semester at NHTI she was invited to join the Phi Theta Kappa honor society due to her excellent grades. She finished up as PTK president, involved with many campus activities, a Sports Management graduate, and will soon be transferring to SNHU.
In keeping with NHTI tradition, the main speakers at this year’s commencement were the recipients of the three most prestigious student awards granted by the college: Ronny Stelly of Center Barnstead, a Landscape and Environmental Design major, who spoke on behalf of the Environmental Action Club, collective winners of the Capital Award for outstanding contributions to college life; Accounting Major Benjamin Breault of Manchester, this year’s winner of the Institute Leadership Team Award for extraordinary contributions to the academic and social missions of NHTI; and Addiction Counseling major Jane Quigley of Antrim, winner of the President’s Award for Outstanding Citizenship.
Coincidentally, each of the three student speakers told of having to overcome some type of adversity to achieve success at NHTI. Stelly spoke about having to overcome the disadvantages of being raised as a foster child; Breault told of failing to make the cut for the major he originally intended to pursue; and Quigley mentioned unspecified setbacks in her life that could have been ruinous, but set her on the path to college instead. All three spoke in different ways about the importance of being willing to step outside one’s “comfort zone,” to take a different path or try something new when circumstances warrant.
Finally, each of the 614 graduates (grouped by majors) was called by name to receive his or her degree. It was a proud moment for the students, their families and friends – and for the faculty and staff of the college. And thank goodness the rain held off.