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Class of 2018 Joins Network of More Than 30,000 Alumni

Commencement 2018
Commencement 2018

Keene State College celebrated the Class of 2018 during its Commencement ceremony on May 5. Cultivating the ongoing legacy of legendary folk artist Woody Guthrie and promoting the appreciation of folk music, this year’s honorary doctor of humane letters recipient and speaker was Nora Guthrie.

Senior Class President Alayna LaBaire and Keene State College President Melinda Treadwell, addressed the graduating students and guests during the ceremony. W.S. Badger, a Gilsum-NH based natural care product company and leader in sustainability and well-being for employees and the community, received the Granite State Award.

Address from Keene State College President Melinda Treadwell

President Melinda Treadwell addressed the Class of 2018 by sharing that “no matter what your passions are, and no matter what path you choose to walk I ask that you commit to it, that you care enough about yourself and the others you will touch as you move through the future ahead that you will be present and give your all.” She offered some advice to the graduating class as well.

“Believe your dreams are worth everything: It is easy to have a dream, the challenge is in believing strongly enough that you will dedicate yourself to doing what is necessary to realize that dream.

“Step into the unknown: You have no idea how many challenges, opportunities will come your way in the life ahead but the biggest and most important moments in my life have come when I dared to just step forward into the unknown and commit myself to the effort.

“Be confident enough to fail: Failure comes in all styles—minor adjustment failure, life recalibrating failure…it is hard, but it is the only way we grow, learn, and succeed. Being safe and not risking failure ensures that you will stay secure right where you are at any given moment…stuck. Failure is how we grow and how deep, meaningful learning happens. If we don’t innovate and try new things to solve problems—particularly in our challenging world today—we will stagnate, we will sit comfortably by while others willing to take chances and explore unknown areas of understanding will pass us by.

“Listen to your inner voice and reinvent yourself: As I know you have during your time at Keene State, pursue your interests form your dreams and take the steps to realize them. Follow what your heart is calling you to do, never sacrifice who you are to be safe, and don’t silence your passions because you aren’t sure. So find your space and if you experience a time when you lose that joy or sense of flow, or balance….listen carefully to what is missing and choose a different pathway….reinvent yourself.

“Be a difference maker: I believe individuals can create deep, meaningful change in the world. Take our motto forward—you have ‘entered to learn’, now you will ‘go forth to serve’. You are incredible individuals and you have made such a difference to this community.

“No matter what you choose to do, do it and do it to the best of your ability! Push through any doubts, be a difference maker in whatever community you join next. We need you—the world needs you to share your gifts, talents and your passions. As an artist, a musician, an author, a scientist, an economist, a health professional, an athlete, a scholar, an engineer, a business owner, a teacher, community advocate, an engaged neighbor, a good friend, a parent….please be present, touch others, and live your life without limits, with joy and with love.”

Address from Senior Class President Alayna LaBaire

Senior Class President Alayna LaBaire addressed fellow graduates by describing her four years as a Keene State student. The three words she chose to share this perspective were: exciting, inspiring, and unforgettable.

“Exciting, as a first year student I remember my first day on campus…I had the largest smile on my face thinking about how much time I had ahead of me to explore this new chapter in my life…There was always something going on either on or off campus. At Keene State no two days are ever the same. Each day always bring adventure.” Alayna went on to explain how Keene State was inspiring. “Inspiring, Keene State pushed me out of my comfort zone…Keene State was my support system. From the day I became an Owl there was always someone trying to help me strive to be the best version of myself. The faculty, staff, and students at Keene State are some of the most genuine individuals I have ever met.” To describe how unforgettable her Keene State time is, Alayna said, “Keene has been our home and will always be our home…Our experiences at Keene State will always be with us wherever we are. We will always be Owls and Keene will always have a place in our hearts.”

She concluded her speech by saying, “Keene State has taught me to always keep trying to achieve my goals no matter how big or small they are….Congratulations Class of 2018. We did it and I can’t wait to see everything we accomplish. Thank you for the best four years of my life.”

Address from Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Recipient Nora Guthrie

Nora Guthrie was presented with the honorary doctor of humane letters degree for her contributions to preserving the legacy of legendary folk artist Woody Guthrie. Nora’s dedication to continuing Woody’s legacy and fostering an appreciation of folk music is commended. In her speech, she shared that what is happening in our world can be overwhelming and numbing.

Ms. Guthrie told the Class of 2018 that they will be pulled in many directions from many different people and voices. She posed the question: How do you get through it? Her answer was “by being yourself”, but, she stressed, first you must know yourself and it is not easy. She said, “For most of us, it takes a lifetime to whittle back to who you are.”

She shared her own childhood experience with a family that welcomed different kinds of people from “hippies” to musicians and dancers, and her sense of feeling different than other people. She urged the Class of 2018 to be unique and to make contributions in their own way, in all things they do. “Do not become like anybody else, because you’re not like anybody else.”

She went on to say that “unique and different people make the difference in the world.” Ms. Guthrie closed by sharing with the Class of 2018 that they are newborn adults – “born into a world that will ask everything of you and will bring great beauty and joy.”

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