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World's top cop advises UNH grads to experience life

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 19. 2012 5:48PM
Melissa Gregory of Stoneham, Mass., occupies her time with bubbles while waiting for the entire graduating class to be seated at UNH Durham. (JAY REITER/UNION LEADER)

DURHAM - Ronald Noble told members of the University of New Hampshire's Class of 2012 the studies that earned them a spot in Saturday's commencement were a fraction of the lessons that lie ahead.

'All is within your grasp. The only limitations on your dreams are those set by you,' said Noble, a UNH alumni and secretary general of Interpol.

Noble urged the graduates to continue their education through experiencing life by pushing beyond what they already know.

'But don't take my word for it on any of this. Do not take anyone's word for it, whether online or offline,' said Noble, the featured speaker at UNH's 142nd commencement. 'See what's out there for yourselves. Dive into it. Feel it on your skin. Touch it. Inhale it. Lose yourself in it. It will change you forever.'

Noble graduated from UNH in 1979 and earned a law degree from Stanford University before beginning his career in public service and eventually law enforcement.

UNH invited him to speak to the more than 2,800 students receiving associate, bachelor's and graduate degrees and thousands of their friends and relatives. Most of those wearing black caps and gowns were undergraduates, who celebrated by bouncing beach balls throughout the ceremony and blowing air horns; one grad climbed atop his classmates for a little crowd surfing.

They toned down their behavior and listened respectfully when Noble was introduced and began his remarks.

'Why am I sharing so many personal experiences with you this morning? Because in 1979, when I was sitting where you are, anxious to grab that degree in my hands, I had no idea of what life had in store for me,' Noble said. 'Anything is possible if you want it bad enough, work hard enough, and are filled with the passion and determination to achieve it.'

UNH and UNH School of Law Commencements, May 19, 2012

Noble has headed Interpol, the international law enforcement agency made up of 190 member countries, since 2000, when at age 44 he became the youngest person ever to serve in that post. He also served in the U.S. Treasury Department, overseeing the Secret Service, U.S. Customs Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

As undersecretary of the Treasury, he witnessed the horrors of the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995 as well as a suicide plane crash at the White House. He has spent the past 12 years leading Interpol's efforts to track down terrorists, murderers, child predators and other criminals across the globe.

Noble called for a minute of silence in honor of fallen law enforcement officers, including slain Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney, killed April 12 in a shootout while assisting a drug task force serving a warrant. Noble also mentioned UNH Police Department Detective Eric Kulberg, who was wounded in the shootout.

'As Interpol secretary general, I am still called upon to focus on the dark side of the world. But not today,' Noble said.

Noble told of his experiences traveling the world, meeting world leaders, shaking the hand of Mother Teresa and seeing things he never could have imagined.

He also dropped in some humor.

'Believe it or not, I've even seen Republicans and Democrats get along, say kind things about and support one another in public,' he said.

The two-hour ceremony started with the procession of graduates marching in as the University Wind Symphony played 'Pomp and Circumstance' for about a half-hour.

It was a cloudless, warm morning, and the synthetic turf of Memorial Field only increased the temperature before the graduates were able to move their tassels and start celebrating.

'It was a great ceremony,' said Chris Taksian, who received a degree in communications. 'A little hot down there, but it was good time.

'It was great. It was a great way to wrap up 2012 for us.'

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