March of ages: NHTI’s 69th graduation focuses on the small things

  • NHTI graduates Anis Oveisi (left) and Karen Williams hold onto their caps during a gust of wind Friday in Concord.

  • NHTI graduate Jerrica Taylor (right) and her classmates get high-fives from students at the campus Child and Family Development Center on Friday in Concord. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Cameron Leonard, 5, from the NHTI Child and Family Deveopment Center on campus gives a high-five to passing graduates as they process on Friday, May 24, 2019 at the Concord campus. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • NHTI graduates give high-fives to students from the campus Child and Family Development Center as they march Friday in Concord. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 5/24/2019 5:54:31 PM

Graduating from college can be a big moment. But as more than 600 NHTI students gathered on the school’s lawn Friday morning for the school’s 69th commencement address, interim school president Cathryn Addy told them the real magic comes in noticing the small things in life.

This can be as simple as finding a poem on a grain elevator or moments of found wisdom on a tea bag. It can be a sign on a cemetery road advising “One way, do not enter.” It can even be a piece of advice from a child, such as “You can’t trust a dog to watch your food.”

Whatever it is, Addy encouraged students to not dismiss those moments even in times of struggle.

“We are never so important that we can forget the smallest moments in our lives because they might be the key to understanding everything,” she said.

This can be hard while in school, Addy said. She noted many of the students graduating that day had to juggle work or raising families while getting their degrees.

“I think it’s fair to say your circumstances have made college rather inconvenient,” she said. “The fact that you’ve made it to this point is proof that you are focused on the journey ahead.”

Student speaker Sarah Ouellette knew this firsthand. Now a mother of three, she first attended school a decade ago but dropped out the first year, saying she lost her way.

She spent time working retail jobs trying to get by, living off tap water and ramen noodles – in some ways, a traditional rite of passage for college students, she noted. It wasn’t until she watched her first child graduate from preschool three years later that she found the motivation again.

“I realized I wanted to be that proud of myself,” she said.

With the support of her family, Ouellete graduated with an associate degree in education and a special certificate in special education. But she didn’t forget to thank herself, either.

“I stand before you today because I finally believed in myself,” she said.

The ceremony also included recognition for students who excelled in academics, leadership and citizenship.

The vice president’s award for academic excellence, which recognizes students who graduate at the top of their class, went to seven students with a 4.0 GPA.

The school’s institutional leadership award went to Nolan McGurn, an accounting major from Plaistow. Sofia Keiser, a general studies major from Concord, received the president’s award for outstanding citizenship.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)

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