On Sunday, June 10, 2012, Granite State College held its annual graduation ceremony. Under a near-perfect blue sky and beautiful warm sunshine, more than 200 students marched proudly across the stage at Meadowbrook Pavilion. It is one of my favorite days of the year as it is an uplifting and positive reminder of what we do - help adult students reach goals, better themselves, and prepare for new adventures.
Quite simply, graduation is the attaining of an academic degree. The reality is much more than that. The common theme of the speakers at the ceremony was one of commitment and support. Commitment by the students to pursue and complete their degree despite obstacles that often came their way. Support from family, friends, faculty, and college staff to continue the journey even when it was rough going.
I am always drawn to the other word we use for this occasion: Commencement. This is the ceremony to mark the conferral of the degree but the word also means to begin, to commence, to start new. As students walked the stage, clutching their hard earned diploma they feel great satisfaction about the accomplishment they have completed . What they may not be thinking about at the time is that it is a new beginning for them. Whether they studied Business, Health Care Management or Elementary Education, new opportunities will be theirs to pursue.
As I watched each happy graduate breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate their achievement, I was also reminded that Granite State College has helped them start on a new path. It is what we do. Congratulations and best wishes for all of the graduates.