Spring Honors Convocation
The 2014 Spring Honors Convocation was held on Friday, May 9 in the Spaulding Gym Recreation Center. The Convocation recognizes excellence in student scholarship and leadership, the recipients of undergraduate Academic Honors (students graduating with a GPA of 3.5-4.0), and the Leo F. Redfern Outstanding Citizen.
The 2014 Commencement Ceremony
Highlights from the Commencement speakers
President Anne E. Huot - Address to the Class of 2014
President Huot opened with an acknowledgement of the many emotions that fill the hearts and minds of Keene State graduates at Commencement. “I know well the sense of joy, hope, sadness, gratitude, and apprehension that fills your hearts and minds. It is indeed a day that pulls us in many directions,” she remarked. She focused on gratitude and charged graduates with honoring all those faculty, staff, family, and friends who have supported and encouraged them through their academic lives. She took a moment to remember with sadness the loss of two members of the Keene State community: employee Nate DeMond and student Sean Thomas Casey.
President Huot reminded graduates of their one thousand four hundred days in college as their opportunity to embrace the pursuit of knowledge, and to recognize and seize opportunity and meet the challenges of the unexpected. These, she noted, are the characteristics that are needed by our communities and our country.
She gave examples of the many accomplishments of the Class of 2014 and stated that they graduate well prepared for their professions and their contributions to the communities they serve. In referring to the College’s mascot, she reminded graduates that they are “Owls for life!”
Paul Calabria, Representing the Keene State College Parents Association
With last year’s abbreviated remarks as a result of the inclement weather, Paul Calabria presented the remarks that had been prepared by Lynn Rice Scazzofava, President of the Keene State College Parents Association in 2013.
Lynn wanted graduates to know that the Keene State College Parents Association believes in them, in their talents and their abilities. The Association is impressed with their commitment to academics, athletics, volunteerism and civic engagement. “You spoke up and you spoke out.” She wanted graduates to know that the Association recognized the challenges that students faced and that they had embraced opportunities and continued to evolve. The Association has watched with pride, once again, as they graduate.
Aaron Testa, President of the Senior Class
Aaron invited graduates to keep their cameras and cell phones on during the ceremony and encouraged them to share the moment with friends and family across all social media platforms available to them. Quoting from Sister Sledge, Aaron reminded graduates that, “We are family,” and remarked that, “This is one family that I am proud to be a part of.” He observed that graduates are not alone and asked the graduating class to stand and recognize those, “who are sharing this experience with you. They have your back, supporting you through highs and lows.” And in return, asked family and friends to give the Class of 2014 a round of applause.
He remarked that his time at Keene State College had given him, “some of the best moments of my life.” And congratulated his classmates for their talent, drive, determination, and maturity. “Each and every one of you has exactly what you need for what you want to do in life.” And quoting the group ’N Sync, Aaron quipped, “Bye, bye, bye.”
Andrew Robinson, Vice President for Student Affairs
In his years of service in higher education, Andrew Robinson stated that he had attended at least 40 commencement ceremonies and had learned much from his experience. He believes that there are probably ten messages that are common in the commencement speeches that graduates hear, but would take this occasion to remind graduates of just a few.
One message is that graduates should thank those who have supported them. “We need other people and they need us,” he stated. Other messages that graduates hear are the need to serve their communities and give back to their colleges. But the one characteristic that Robinson sees as the key to success, and one that graduates share in common is persistence. Persistence is necessary for a successful life. Robinson quoted President Calvin Coolidge on his belief that with persistence and determination one can be unstoppable.
Robinson shared his pet peeve that graduates are told that they are entering the “real world.” Robinson noted that students have already spent thousands of hours in community service, studied around the world, built houses, won awards, and that their research projects, “have set you apart from your colleagues at other schools.” He noted how impressed he was that students have managed to work and to attend school at the same time. “There is no one more completely engaged in the real world. You have done that.” He closed with, “keep calm and keep on!”
John G. (Jack) Dugan, Recipient of the Granite State Award
John Dugan was recognized by President Huot for two decades of service devoted to the economic stability of the region through his work with the Monadnock Economic Development Corporation. She cited the impact of his work with the development of more than $150 million in real estate, 1.5 million square feet of commercial space, and thousands of jobs.
In his remarks, John Dugan noted that over the last few decades that he has watched the progress on the Keene State College campus and that the transformation has been incredible. The transformation on campus has inspired the Monadnock Economic Development Commission. He sees Keene as, “a great place to live, work and play.” He thanked the board of the Commission, the City of Keene, Cheshire County, and his family for the support they have shown him.
Howard W. Smith, Class of 1942
Dr. Smith came to Keene in 1938 and attended Keene State College in preparation for dental school. After studying dentistry and then coursework at Yale medical school, he set up a dental practice and became an ear, nose, and throat specialist. At 70, he began teaching at Columbia School of Medicine. In 1995, he set up a foundation in Honduras to correct the many cases of facial deformity that he encountered. Now, at 94, he continues to train a surgical team in procedures to correct facial deformities. Dr. Smith received the Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from Keene State College.
In his remarks, Dr. Smith described his experience in Keene, New Hampshire after the great hurricane of 1938. “The buildings were still here,” he remarked. “There were so few of them you didn’t have to look very hard.” When he returned to Keene years later he was amazed at the changes that had taken place. “I lost my way,” he recalled.
He noted that he had, “no pearls to give students,” as they had already received more than enough pearls. His statement that he has been teaching for 74 years earned him a round of applause from the Class of 2014. He noted that he, “went to work at 4:00, or 3:00, or 2:00, or 1:00 and tried to find a schedule between school and work.” He observed that the spirit of Keene State is different from other schools. “The camaraderie that you have here will last you a long time,” he offered. He recommended to graduates that they not teach past the age of 80 and concluded with these words, “Have fun, work hard, and do good.”