MANCHESTER — In a speech that was part advice and part sales pitch, Gov. Maggie Hassan told the 368 graduates of the University of New Hampshire at Manchester at Thursday's commencement that the Granite State can help them find their future.
"I hope that, as you move forward, you will strongly consider building your successful careers right here in New Hampshire," Hassan said, rolling off the state's features, including outdoor activities and economic prospects for job seekers. "The Granite State has so much to offer you."
The evening had the usual hallmarks of the end of a line of college studies. Caps and gowns, advice from university officials and reminders that graduation ceremonies are not the end, but a beginning, for those receiving associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees turning their tassles from right to left.
But the graduates were also told that they did not get to this point alone and that, in their own small way, they can make an impact.
"I was told one time that one person can't change the world," said Ashley Potter, who received a degree in sign language interpretation and delivered the student address. "I think that person is wrong. I firmly believe that the existence of one person can change the world. And I firmly believe that this group of people, sitting here today, will change the world."
Richard E. Galway, chairman of the University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees, asked the former students to remember anyone who helped them get to Thursday's ceremony.
"A college degree is a family, as well as an individual, achievement. And our thanks go to your family and loved ones for their support of you during these years of your education," he said.
Miranda Berube, who received a bachelor's degree in English, said she was excited about graduating and trying to pursue a career in marketing. The Manchester native said she decided to stay close to home to attend school.
"It's convenient," she said. "It's UNH, but I don't have to drive to Durham."
Stacey Marie Lee, a Merrimack native who also received a bachelor's degree in English, said she hopes to pursue a master's in education and become a teacher.
"I'm just glad I'm finally done," she said of her undergraduate studies.
Hassan told the group that they need to remember that they have worked too hard to let obstacles stop them.
"A gentle reminder from your governor: we are Granite Staters, we are Americans and we are supposed to do hard things," she said.