Hundreds of family, friends, alumni and graduates huddled into tents Friday night to celebrate the River Valley Community College graduation.
“We have some ambitious scholars in this class,” said College President Dr. Alicia Harvey-Smith.
The college has students working toward associates and bachelors degrees at places like Colby-Sawyer College, Granite State College, Keene State College, Harvey-Smith said. Many are going right out into the workplace, starting work at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and State of New Hampshire Forensic Laboratory, she noted.
“As I signed each degree being awarded, I saw them as representing a new beginning for each of you to make a difference through the lessons learned here at River Valley Community College,” Harvey-Smith said. “As I reflected on what I would say today, my mind returned repeatedly to a singular phrase and I knew my message would be a simple one, ‘You Can Change the World.’”
Changing the world for the graduates started with making the decision to pursue their educations, Harvey-Smith said. That’s something that set them apart from their peers.
“Understand that ‘different’ does not necessarily mean wrong, as a graduate you made a decision to pursue your education, a different decision than some others. You decided that you were going to finish what you started,” Harvey-Smith said.
Changing the world comes at a cost, though, Harvey-Smith said. It will require sacrifice and hard work to first change their own world, she said.
“Graduates, the journey may not be easy, but often things worth having require extra effort and when the support you need may go lacking, remember to continue forward in the direction of your dreams,” she said.
Ross Gittell, the chancellor of the Community College System of New Hampshire, congratulated the more than 200 graduates from River Valley. He noted that more than 2,000 students are graduating from the entire New Hampshire community college system this year.
“You have invested your time, effort, and resources to gain the knowledge and respect that comes with a college education,” Gittell said. “Know where you want to go, have a plan how you want to get there, always follow your plan and remember who helped you get there.”
James Magoon, who is graduating from the physical therapy assistant program, thanked the college for the “top-notch” education he received at the school. Magoon, a military veteran, got tired of not having the degrees he wanted, and not having the career he wanted. He said the faculty and staff at River Valley pushed him to always do more.
“They convinced me I was capable of doing more,” Magoon said.
Magoon earned his bachelor’s degree and plans to go to graduate school, thanks to the education he received at River Valley.
Claremont’s City Manager Guy Santagate knows that the students had to do a lot of hard work, and that they and their families had to give up a lot to get to the graduation. Santagate said he knows the graduates will now contribute to the community.
“I look forward to watching your great accomplishments in the future,” Santagate said.
Harvey-Smith implored the students, her first graduates at River Valley, to remember what they have accomplished by graduating, and what it means about their lives.
“You have it within your power to live the life of your dreams and in so doing, to change the world,” Harvey Smith said.
The following area students earned degrees at the ceremony Friday night:
Miranda Corrine Albano of Enfield, N.H., Logan Cody Alcala of Windsor, Kelsey Marie Allard of Claremont, Phillip T. Andrews of White River Junction, Vt., Carlyle Jeffrey Armstrong of Canaan, N.H., Wendy Joanne Bagley of Canaan, N.H., Katherine Jane Baker of Acworth, Kirsten Marie Barwood of Francestown, N.H., David Paul Bashaw of Swanzey, N.H., Ashley Rose Beaulieu of Claremont, Carmel Aline Bechard of Merrimack, N.H., Shayna Beck of Salisbury, N.H., Kimberly Ann Beebe of Hartland, Peter Joseph Bill of Georges Mills, Shayna Lexis Binder-Robichaud of Charlestown, Devon Jessica Birsky of Claremont, Brittany Dansk Blomquist of Newport, Jennifer A. Brady of West Lebanon, Christopher R. Branagan of North Bennington, Vt., Pamela Jean Brisson of Norwich, Vt., Sadie Broadley of Canaan, N.H., Jennifer Leigh Burke of Keene, Glenn A. Caron, Northfield, N.H., Kami Lynn Carter of Dorchester, N.H., Elizabeth A. Casey of Chester, Fred C. Casey of West Dover, Vt., Deanna Lynn Cavalliere of Swanzey, N.H., Shellie Lynn Cavalliere of Swanzey, N.H., Carolyn Elizabeth Cavanaugh of Keene, Jayne P. Cayes of Epsom, N.H., Ryan Terry Chartier of Claremont, Megan Elizabeth Chickering of West Chesterfield, N.H., Nick Chiocchio of Grantham, Yi-Hsuan Chou of West Lebanon, Brooke Morgan Clark of Cornish Flat, Lisa M. Coldwell of Marlborough, N.H., Danielle Marie Coolidge of Claremont, Rachael Mary Cormier of Windsor, Karen Ann Cota of Sullivan, N.H., Krista Sue Cote of Bedford, N.H., Dana Jeanne Courtemanche of Claremont, Robert Wilfred Coutu of Grafton, Derek lan Cowan of Enfield, N.H., Eric Victor Curtis of Claremont, Breanna Rose Dailey of Keene, Lisa Marie DeGrasse of Lebanon, Carmen Loren del Genio of Acworth, Sarah Kathleen Dole of Claremont, Colline Marie Dreyfuss of Keene, James Ero Ekblom of Keene, Erica A. Endrusick of Springfield, Vt., Ryan Andrew Erisman, Claremont, Kristi Farren of Keene, Jillian Marie Fitzgerald of Dorchester, N.H., Tamara Sonja Fleury of Croydon, Ronald A. Flood of Windsor, Lisa Anne Foley of Claremont, Elise Lianna Fontaine of Claremont, Carmen DC Franks of Charlestown, Gina M. Gallo of Ludlow, Kathryn Marie Gardner of Henniker, N.H., Megan Marie Gauvin of Canaan, N.H., Samantha Reneé Geer of Newport, Kelly E. Giard of Guilford, Vt., Aurora Kathleen Gleason of Enfield, N.H., Michelle A. Goodwin of Fitzwilliam, N.H., Zoe Aurora Graboski of Charlestown, Lisa Jean Gregory of Newport, Gary Edwin Grout of South Londonderry, Vt., Starr Gutierrez of Hinsdale, N.H., Kaitlyn Paige Hall of West Lebanon, Selina K. Hamilton of Claremont, Amanda Mae Harding of West Peterborough, N.H., Kraig Brian Harlow of Claremont, Catherine Alison Herbert of Claremont, Emily Herzog of Claremont, Amber Arlene Hewey of Hampton, Va., Jessikah Skawtt Hopwood of West Lebanon, Jamie L. Hummel of Jaffrey, N.H., Heather Marie Huntley of White River Junction, Vt., Craig S. Huppe of Woodstock, Vt., Jordan Marie Hutchinson of Ascutney, Corey James Jakway of Spofford, N.H., Sara Rogers Jennings of Walpole, Brian Owen Johnson of Claremont, Michael Johnston Canaan, Anna Victoria Kane of Concord, N.H., Kymberly Lynn Kenney of Newport, Gordon Carl Kirsh of Marlow, N.H., Stephen Christopher Kopcha of Swanzey, N.H., Amanda C. Kovacs of South Royalton, Vt., Daniel Stevens Lacroix of Marlborough, N.H., Conner Renee Lafromboise of Chelsea, Vt., Laurel Autumn Lakey of Hartland, Tina Marie Landry of Newport, Kristen Ann Largess of Claremont, Matthew Paul Lary of Gorham, N.H., Rebecca Lorraine Lazzaro of Swanzey, N.H., Sabrina Kitti LeClair of Keene, Brittany Danielle Lee of Claremont, James L. Lewis of White River Junction, Vt., Michelle E. Lockwood of Claremont, Jasmine Mariah Macie of Hampton, Va., James Roland Magoon of Springfield, Vt., Holly E. Maher of West Lebanon, Emilie Anne Major of New London, Briana K Mangiaracina of Keene, Tracey Lynne Martin of Keene, Emily Taaffe Mason of Keene, Robin Cynthia Matatics of Keene, Stephanie Lee McAllister, of Spofford, N.H., Vanessa R. McBroom of North Sutton, Hilary Bean McElaney of Spofford, N.H., Faith A. McKinney of Canaan, N.H., Casey Marie Miller of Claremont, Eliza Ruth Miller of Walpole, Melissa Mock of Bedford, Michael Scott Moreland of Westmoreland, N.H., Erin Marie Morse of Lebanon, Linda Malala Mukhongo of Cornish, Margaret Rose Murphy of Windsor, Felicia Murray of Reading, Kelsey Mae Myers of Westmoreland, Sarah Margaret Nelson of Claremont, Elizabeth Ashley Nelson of Keene, Torri R. Nelson of Lebanon, Heather P. Nelson of Ryegate, Vt., Sean Nichols of Plymouth, N.H., Randy Allen O’Neil of Claremont, Ashley N. Oronte of Lebanon, Jacinta Adongo Otsembo of Claremont, Michael Joseph Paquette of North Walpole, Thomas Michael Paquin of Lancaster, N.H., Michelle Megan Paskerta of Charlestown, Jennifer Keating Patek of Keene, Roshni R. Patel, Spartanburg, S.C., Brian David Peck of Grantham, Tabitha L. Pena of Walpole, John Robert Perrin of Claremont, Pauline Thacker Perry of Alstead, Heather J . Perry of Lebanon, Jeremy Walter Peters of South Londonderry, Vt., Amy Sue Picknell of Penacook, N.H., Desiree Placey of East Barre, Vt., Tara Megan Pregent of Enfield, Tracey Kathryn Proctor of Webster, N.H., Tiffany Diane Qualters of Hinsdale, N.H., Katie Elizabeth Rader of Fairlee, Vt., Jeri Lynn Ramsey of Charlestown, Lorna W. Rau of Keene, Ashley Marie Richner of Claremont, Kristin Allison Ritchie of Nashua, N.H., PatriciaAnn Rock of Enfield, N.H., JeanMarie Surrell Rodriguez of Keene, Jennifer Rogers of Canaan, Rosalla Mary Rowe-Carroll of Stoddard, N.H., Tyler A. Rowell of Hartford, Vt., Megan Jane Sanfilippo of Simsbury, Conn., Barbara J. Santone of Shelburne, Robin Browne Saunders of Sunapee, Aaron Jonathan Scott of Keene, Leah R. Sears of North Walpole, Nicholas Joseph Sekula of Claremont, Todd Daniel Seymour of Lempster, Amanda Jean Sheehan of Marlborough, N.H., Brandy Lee Shodunke of Tunbridge, Vt., Kate Charlotte Sickles of Fitzwilliam, N.H., Julie Patricia Smith of Ascutney, Heather Jill Smith of Charlestown, Alana J. Smith of Concord, N.H., Danielle Rose Smith of Harrisville, N.H., Erin Marie Squire of Springfield, Vt., Christopher J. St. Marie of Claremont, Carissa A. Stauffer of White River Junction, Vt., Pamela Lynn Stevens of Windsor, Michael Gary Stone of Keene, Mariah Marie Taylor of Claremont, Wendy Lee Tenney of Swanzey, N.H., Chelsey Lee Tenney of Swanzey, N.H., Denise E. Tennyson of Laconia, N.H., Samantha Bree Thayer of Marlborough, N.H., Vaughn T. Tingley of Keene, Bianca Marie Tom of Keene, Kathryn Elizabeth Vittum of Rindge, N.H., Melinda Diane Vonderhorst of Keene, Peter R. Vowles of Newport, Dan Edward Wahl of Canaan, N.H., Joseph Mahlo Wallace of Goshen, Brendan James Weeks of Brownsville, Vt., Jason S. Welch of Bradford, Vt., Jenny J. Wells of Stoddard, N.H., Ann Pickering Wentworth of Newport, Rebecca Wilkins of Andover, Vt., Bonnie Jean Wilson of Winchester, N.H., Valerie Marie Young of Newport.
By Damien Fisher, Eagle Times