A future so bright: NHTI graduates 583 students into all walks of life

  • Adam Mullen, 23, of Litchfield walks toward the stage during NHTI’s commencement ceremony in Concord on Friday. Mullen, who is legally blind, graduated with two degrees in advanced manufacturing process technology and manufacturing engineering technology. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Graduates listen to commencement speeches at the NHTI graduation on Friday under a tent at the Concord campus. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 5/18/2018 5:15:27 PM

Adam Mullen, 23, of Litchfield
strode confidently up the podium
to receive his NHTI diploma while wearing his signature dark sunglasses.

The moment capped an impressive accomplishment for Mullen. And it signaled the beginning of perhaps an even more extraordinary opportunity.

“After graduation, I’m moving to Rhode Island for a job with General Dynamics working on nuclear submarines,” Mullen said.

“What is even more amazing about Adam is that he is legally blind,” NHTI President Dr. Susan B. Dunton said during her opening speech to 583 graduates during the community college’s 68th commencement ceremony on Friday in Concord. “It would be an understatement to say the first time he had machine shop class the faculty were a little nervous letting him run a machine tool.”

Dennis Tappin, an associate professor of engineering technology, was one of those faculty members worried about Mullen’s impaired vision while working in such a hands-on field.

“He’s taken his disability full on. He understands what his limitations are and he’s, I think, overly creative in trying to figure out how to overcome those disabilities,” Tappin said. “(He was) extremely methodical and thorough to make sure that he was on target every time he tried to do a task.”

Engineering technology professor Jeff Beltramo was impressed with Mullen’s work ethic and the passion he had for learing. Both Beltramo and Tappin recognized the support that Mullen could bring to other students. Over time, both professors said he became “somewhat of a teacher’s assistant.”

“His ability to be able to have a disability, excel as well as he has and still want to give back is really a testament to his story,” Tappin said before both he and Beltramo joked about how they wished they had “dozens of Adams.”

Mullen graduated with a GPA of 3.85 while serving as the president of the Alternative Spring Break Club. The club requires its members to complete at least 10 hours of community service every semester while planning a spring break trip service project. This past semester, Mullen and the club traveled to Houston to help rebuild homes that had been damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

Most NHTI students complete their studies in two-year programs, although that isn’t always the case. One of those nontraditional students is Rachel Pitt, 49, originally from England.

Pitt was the winner of the Institute Leadership Team Award, which according to Dunton is, “...presented to a student whose extraordinary contribution to the academic and social mission of NHTI has benefited the campus community.”

Pitt earned a bachelor of math degree at the University of Lancaster in England before moving to the United States in 2001. Now in her second year at NHTI, Pitt is studying for a dual major in health science and general studies. With only three classes to complete before finishing her curriculum, she is also an editor for NHTI’s student journal The Eye which features student work like research papers and projects. Additionally, Pitt was the treasurer of the social science club.

“I never got any academic awards before this semester, and certainly never dreamed when I started this journey that I would ever be standing in front of a crowd of people like this,” Pitt said during her address to the audience. “Stepping out of my comfort zone really paid off.”

With four grown children, revisiting college after her time in England seemed like a pipe dream for Pitt, who chose to attend NHTI after visiting the campus with her youngest son when he was accepted to the college. Even though the “sake of learning” was also a factor in her decision to return to college, Pitt was extremely happy with her choice. All the while, Pitt earned a 4.0 GPA.

“Your children still need you, but not in the same way,” Pitt said during her speech. “I had spent over 20 years being a mom and had long ago given up my career. I honestly felt a little stupid and sort of redundant. My life needed a new direction.”

Mariem Hassan, 19, of Derry was honored at graduation as the outstanding senior in electrical engineering technology. Hassan is one of a handful of women in EET at NHTI. Both she and Dunton recognize the need for more women to be involved in the engineering field. Hassan’s father is an electrical engineer and was her main motivator to seek a degree in EET.

Hassan will be attending UNH’s Durham campus in the fall as a junior utilizing NHTI’s “2+2” program that allows students to transfer credits to UNH for the completion of a traditional four-year degree. This program also allows Hassan to save some money, “I want to say like 20 grand,” she laughed.

During her time at NHTI, Hassan has been an intern with BAE Systems and will continue working with them in future. She said the biggest lesson she’s taken away from NHTI was that, “Even if it gets hard, you just have to keep pulling through because in the end it’s really going to be worth it.”

For Mullen, one of the main reasons why he chose to attend NHTI was the faculty members.

“The professors are very willing to help as long as the students are willing to ask for help. They really want students to go above and beyond,” Mullen said.

Financially, NHTI was also a much better option for Mullen. “It’s a fantastic value for the money,” he said. Mullen was able to pay his way through NHTI with no financial aid and graduated with “very little debt.”




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