Commencement 2011 Address
by President Michele D. Perkins, Ed.D.
May 14, 2011
Trustees, distinguished honorees, faculty, staff, families, alumni and friends of New England College, welcome to the 64th Commencement of New England College as we celebrate the Class of 2011.
I would like to extend a warm welcome to our honorary degree recipient and Commencement speaker, Senator Jeanne Shaheen. Your presence here today is an honor for us all.
I would also like to take a moment to offer a special welcome to alumni and friends of New England College, all over the world, who are watching today’s ceremony through a live stream over the internet. This is the first time in the history of the College that we have been able to share this occasion with such a wide audience and we are delighted to know that you are able to join us.
I know I said this last year, but I certainly don’t mind repeating good news. We have an embarrassment of riches here today – and that includes more than 400 about-to-be-minted undergraduate and graduate alumni of New England College! The Class of 2011 – YOU are now the largest graduating class in the history of New England College!
When you leave Henniker, New Hampshire for the adventures that await you in this next phase of your lives, I challenge you to remember those ideals, those values, and those aspirations that brought you to this College.
Each one of you came to New England College seeking something. You all sought an educational experience that would allow you to pursue your career goals, your dreams, or your passion. And for many, you expressed an eagerness to find a way to help others – to be part of some larger effort that would bring meaningful change to the world. Each one of you had aspirations.
Today, you stand on the threshold of a defining moment in your lives. After much hard work, you have earned your degrees. The door is open.
Samuel Johnson, the 18th century English author and scholar declared, “Our aspirations are our possibilities.”
Graduates: You know that if you aspire to something, you can make it happen. Look at what you have achieved, where you are at this moment. It is proof. As you know from the work you put into your education, big aspirations aren’t easy to achieve. Commitment, hard work, and persistence are required. There are also challenges, frustrations, and even dead ends. But to hold firmly to your aspirations is to keep the fire of possibility burning.
New England College, as an institution of higher learning, has its own aspirations and I’d like to share some of these with our graduates and families today. We are about to launch a new strategic plan, one that will change significantly what we do as a College while preserving and amplifying our distinctive traditions. We plan to become a 12-month campus, one that continues to embrace experiential and engaged learning, one that embraces the environment of rural New Hampshire and makes our landscape our classroom. Our plan calls for diversifying further our already diverse student, faculty, and staff populations. And we plan to renovate – in effect re-engineer – many of our facilities, build new structures, such as a new athletic center, and brand and beautify our campus. Additionally, linked to these plans, we will launch the College’s first comprehensive capital campaign in the next year. As exciting as the past four years have been for me as president of NEC, and my fifth Commencement exercise, the next five years promise even greater advancements for our College. I encourage all of our alumni, particularly today’s graduates, to stay in touch, share your achievements, and learn of ours. You are always welcome on this campus and I hope you come back to the NEC family often. Our motto, dura duranda, alta petenda, is Latin for “through our collective hard work we reach great heights.” How true that is, and the evidence sits before us today. Graduates, keep that motto in your heads as you go through life. It will serve you well. It has served you well. And know that back at home, at New England College, we live that motto as well.
When I spoke earlier about the embarrassment of riches at New England College, I have to tell you I am deeply impressed with the magnitude of the talent that I see before me today. Graduates of the Class of 2011, you have the power to change the world. Your faculty, the Board of Trustees and I, your family, friends, and colleagues are gathered here to celebrate your accomplishments and we will follow your success with the greatest pride. But I challenge you. Reflect on those aspirations that brought you here. Reflect also on what you have explored, discovered, and learned here. And regardless of your path in life, remember this day that marks your transformation from one set of aspirations to another. I wish you a lifetime of aspirations and I know you have the ability, the determination, and the educational foundation to achieve your dreams.
Congratulations Class of 2011.