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Graduates make known their field of study at Friday's event. (COURTESY)

NHTI students speak about overcoming adversity during commencement ceremonies in Concord


CONCORD - The three main student commencement speakers at New Hampshire Technical Institute's 64th annual graduation ceremonies Friday spoke of overcoming adversity before achieving success.

Landscape and environmental design graduate Ronny Stelly overcame the trials of being raised a foster child.

The Center Barnstead graduate spoke on behalf of the Environmental Club, which won the Capital Award for outstanding contributions to college life.

Student speakers traditionally are selected from those who received the institute's three most prestigious awards.

Accounting major Benjamin Breault of Manchester, this year's winner of the Institute Leadership Team Award for extraordinary contributions to NHTI's academic and social missions, recounted how he failed to make the cut for the major he initially intended to pursue.

And addiction counseling major Jane Quigley of Antrim, who won the President's Award for Outstanding Citizenship, spoke of overcoming setbacks that could have been ruinous to her life.

All three discussed the importance of being willing to go outside one's "comfort zone."

The institute awarded 614 associate degrees. Those included 60 each in criminal justice and nursing, and more than 75 degrees in general studies.

This year's class included 29 veterans and more than 100 graduates in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).

In his opening remarks, interim President Stephen P. Caccia saluted a handful of graduates for special recognition.

They included visual arts major Michael Grady, who will attend Rochester Institute of Technology to continue his studies in industrial design; health science major Crystal Marie Labrecque, whose short story was accepted for publication in "The Painted Cave," a national literary journal; sports management major Daniel Ryan Sweeney, who overcame social awkwardness brought on by high-functioning autism to become a letterman and captain of the men's basketball team; and sports management major Amanda Phillips, who overcame dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder to join the Phi Theta Kappa honor society due to her excellent grades. She later became its president.

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