NASHUA -- Graduates of Nashua Community College were encouraged on Saturday to make a positive difference in the world by learning from their mistakes, facing obstacles head-on and not giving into fear.
Class of 2013 graduates celebrated while saying goodbye to classmates and preparing for another chapter in their lives. The 273 graduates listened to many words of wisdom during the 42nd annual commencement, leaving the event with one simple message — to find strength.
"How can we tell our story? How can we make a difference?" asked graduate Allison Lanza, who presented the student address. She told her fellow graduates that they will have opportunities to exercise their personal integrity.
It is up to them, she said, to rise above their own reservations and find the strength and power to make positive changes in their lives and the world around them.
"We should not be afraid to take chances," said Lanza, urging her classmates to use their own voices and intuition when everyone else remains silent. Strive to do the right thing while facing hardships — learning from each of life's lessons along the way, she added.
While celebrating their success, Lucille Jordan, Nashua Community College president, covered the graduates with handfuls of confetti as they joined in singing "Sweet Caroline."
The students also stood and applauded their parents, spouses and friends for supporting them throughout their college journey. Many graduates juggled jobs and family obligations with courses throughout their college career.
"Our students have been an inspiration to all, and we have been humbled by their presence," said Jordan. "As a mind begins to spread its wings, there is no stopping curiosity."
Jordan echoed Lanza's comments, reminding the graduating class to go out, be strong and make magic.
Reflecting on the events that recently occurred in Boston, Jordan asked the classmates to remain not only Boston strong, but New England strong as well.
"This has been a year of great losses and great gains," she said, adding the Class of 2013 has had the courage to do the right thing by "hands touching hands."
Jordan recognized student Brandon Masterson, who died before he was able to graduate with his peers. His family, however, was present to receive Masterson's automotive technology diploma posthumously in an emotional moment for those in attendance.
"There is no more meaningful contribution than to educate yourself," state Rep. David Campbell said during his commencement address.
He left the graduates with three pieces of advice before heading into the real world. Campbell told the new graduates that to be successful and happy they must not be afraid to make mistakes while trying hard not to repeat them, to surround themselves with positive people and to embrace intellectual opportunities while continuing to learn new things.