UNH Manchester Commencement 2009

University of New Hampshire at Manchester
Commencement Remarks

Mark W. Huddleston

President, University of New Hampshire
May 21, 2009
Center of New Hampshire
Manchester, New Hampshire

Trustees, faculty, administrators, families, friends, honored guests and graduates: Welcome to the University of New Hampshire at Manchester’s 24th commencement exercise. Today we honor and celebrate the dedication and achievements of the class of 2009.

Many people have contributed to the accomplishments of those we honor today. Before we begin this evening’s proceedings, I would like to ask you, the members of the Class of 2009, to stand and be recognized, and to turn around and recognize your families, parents, grandparents, and all those who have supported and helped you to reach this moment.

It has been an honor to represent the remarkable teaching, research, and outreach programs that characterize the University of New Hampshire over the past two years. My admiration for UNH Manchester has done nothing but grow. This campus plays an important role as part of the University, not just for the individuals we honor this evening, but also for the advancement of this city, state, and region.

UNH Manchester—like its host city—has undergone a renaissance in recent years and next year will celebrate its 25th anniversary as a college of UNH. Our urban campus has grown from its humble beginnings in 1985 in a church basement, to a split Hackett Hill/Millyard campus, to our current and soon-to-expand Millyard location. Our new Center for Applied Science, Technology and Management will enable the University to expand its applied technology and science programs to meet the needs of the Merrimack Valley technology corridor and continue its support for regional growth.

UNH Manchester is a dynamic learning community that supports the talented, creative and hardworking people who make this city a vibrant place in which to live, learn and succeed. UNH Manchester has served as a catalyst for personal and regional growth by strengthening the academic experience with community engagement, responding to the lifelong learning needs of undergraduate and graduate students, and fostering a climate of innovation and opportunity for students, business and industry, and the region.

Everyone here—UNH Manchester faculty, students, staff, and alumni—serves as our vital link to New Hampshire’s urban core. I am proud of this fact, because you represent us so well. Our students have developed lasting and powerful ties to this community. Consider:

UNH Manchester interns at Manchester Mayor Guinta’s Office:

Jason Mattia worked on the Mayor’s task force on homeless youth in Manchester.
UNH Manchester interns also served at the Manchester Historic Association:
Patrick McGuigan’s oral history of the Irish in Manchester will coincide with the 125th anniversary of the parish they founded, St. Joseph.

After you leave here today, as newly minted alumni, we know that your ties to UNH will soon extend beyond this Millyard and these city limits. As you take your positions in society as educated and compassionate citizens, I am confident that your contributions, in whatever form they ultimately take, will extend throughout the region and the world.

For some of you, they already have.

Elizabeth Neilan, a history major, managed a fulltime course load and two jobs, one as the project assistant for the UNH ELL Co Op Grant. Liz successfully led the UNH Manchester Ensuring Warmth from the Millyard team to first place in the New Hampshire Social Entrepreneurial Student Leader challenge this month and won the oral presentation award in the 2009 Undergraduate Research Conference.

Anna Gdanian, communication arts major, interned at the Nashua Adult Learning Center, where she helped plan and teach ESOL courses. Anna returned last week from a study abroad program in Uganda and Rwanda with Food for the Hungry. She inspired so many with her blog posts.

Chris Lussier, a Sign Language Interpretation major and nontraditional student, worked full time, mentored 160 hours per semester, and strove to become a welcomed member of the Deaf community.

Nicole Ponti, a communication arts major, balanced a job with a fulltime course load, yet found time to contribute as co-chair of the student activity fee council and student representative to the College’s budget committee.vKatherine Pickowicz, an Army reserve soldier, served tours in Iraq and came back to finish her business degree.

Seniors in the business program’s senior seminar logged in more than 3,000 hours at area non-profits such as the International Institute, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Easter Seals.

No matter your background, as UNH graduates you share certain traits. You are critical and creative thinkers who have worked hard to reach this important milestone. Some of you have followed the “traditional” educational path and are what we know as “college-age” students. Others have found your way to UNH while working full-time, raising families, taking care of your parents, contributing to your communities and our nation. Sometimes, like Carole Chumak, you have done all of the above. Carole, winner of the business programs’ Michael S. Brennan award for Character, Perseverance, and Academic excellence, raised a family of four children alone in Concord while her husband served multiple tours of duty with Special Forces in the mountains of Afghanistan. Carole is now in the executive training program at Target, and will soon be managing her own store, a scant five months after starting the program.

Whatever your path, you have achieved something extraordinary today and it is my pleasure to offer congratulations.

The story of UNH Manchester is one of dedication and perseverance—as is the story of our commencement speaker, Nick Durso. It is also one of success, as in the case of Jesse Godek, who has been dubbed the “Miracle Intern” by his PR agency internship host. Whether your path has been clear-cut or is still emerging, or whether you are one of our older graduates like Florence Merrill, I know that a UNH faculty or staff member has inspired you. I applaud them for their expertise and dedication and I applaud you for your accomplishments.