Great Bay Community College graduation

{span}Casey Snyder spoke at Great Bay Community College’s commencement ceremony Saturday morning.{/span}

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PORTSMOUTH — The keynote speaker at Great Bay Community College’s commencement ceremony told graduates Saturday it is important to be on the lookout for people who will help them realize their potential.

“When someone decides to invest in you, work like hell to accommodate their decision,” Casey Snyder said. “After a series of setbacks, I knew I would make it. I no longer feared failure, but more importantly I did not want to disappoint those who believed in me when others did not.”

Snyder is a partner, senior vice president and wealth manager at The Sedoric Group of Steward Partners in Portsmouth.

Snyder also advised the graduates to find meaning and purpose in their failures as they navigate through life.

“Failure is how resolve is forged,” Snyder said.

Paul Holloway, past chair of the Community College System of New Hampshire, said the school will always welcome the graduates back.

“When you think this is an end, I am here to tell you education is never the end. When you want to learn something new or take the next step in your chosen field, Great Bay will be here for you,” Holloway said.

Prior to the graduation ceremonies, some students shared their thoughts.

Marguerite Kennish of Brentwood earned an associate’s degree in engineering science and plans to transfer to the University of New Hampshire to study mechanical engineering.

“Great Bay’s partnership with UNH has given me a way to afford a four-year college. My education at Great Bay has been worth every penny,” Kennish said.

Nicholas Karatzas is the school’s youngest graduate at age 17. He began taking classes at Great Bay during his freshman year at Oyster River High School in Durham because his home school didn’t offer courses focused on the metalworking trades or engineering.

Karatzas was able to graduate from high school last year with 10 community college courses under his belt.

“It makes sense to begin the college experience at a community college not only to save money but to gain different experiences,” Karatzas said.

Karatzas plans to pursue a career in machining after earning a mechanical engineering degree from a four-year institution.

A total of 252 students in 31 different degree programs earned their diplomas from GBCC on Saturday. Many of the graduates said they plan to enter the workforce, using their degrees and certificates to fill immediate openings in high-demand fields such as nursing, surgical technology, advanced composites manufacturing and welding.