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River Valley Community College graduates John Perrin and Margaret Murphy celebrate at commencement on Friday. (MEGHAN PIERCE)

River Valley Community College grads encouraged to listen to their inner voices

CLAREMONT -- River Valley Community College held its 46th commencement ceremony at its campus on Friday.

The 208 graduates entered the white tents wearing Hawaiian leis over their robes, and many celebrated by blowing bubbles.

James Magoon, a veteran and a graduate of the college's Physical Therapist Assistant Program, spoke for the graduates in welcoming family and friends to the ceremony, especially members of the military and veterans.

Magoon said he plans to continue his education and eventually achieve a doctorate in physical therapy.

River Valley was a second chance for Magoon and the start of a new chapter in his life, he said.

"I never regretted my commitment to the service . but I wished I had got an education," Magoon said. "But life's challenges eliminated any possibility for an academic future for me until I put my foot down and made the effort to go to school part time at night. From there, it snowballed, and I never looked back."

River Valley President Alicia B. Harvey-Smith, who joined the college as its 10th president last summer, gave the commencement address.

"I am so honored to have been asked to give this year's commencement address. The Class of 2014 will always have a special place in my heart because you are my first graduating class as president," she said. "Congratulations, Class of 2014. Thank you for sharing this very special moment with me. I believe you have the ability to climb every mountain. Go forward and change the world."

She highlighted the opportunities at River Valley to further careers, or start them, as well as continuing in higher education.

She urged graduates to believe in their ability to achieve all their dreams.

"Nothing is impossible if you believe. Nothing is unattainable, if you believe. No turning back, if you believe. To maximize your success, have a vision and plan for your life. Write it down and look at it often and include the steps that it will take you to get from here to there. When you feel like quitting, work your plan. When you feel like you can't go on, work your plan. When times get hard, say it with me, work your plan. I encourage you also to listen to that voice inside of you which moves you passionately in pursuit of your dreams."


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