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Speakers bring the sunshine to rainy FPU commencement Saturday

  • Franklin Pierce University President Kim Mooney addresses the class of 2018 and others in attendance at the university’s commencement ceremony on Saturday.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Joshua Mercer, valedictorian of the class of 2018’s professional studies, offers parting words of wisdom on Saturday.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • B. Jay Cooper, a member of the board of trustees at FPU, and honorary degree recipient Dana Bash, CNN’s chief political correspondent, laugh during FPU’s commencement ceremony on Saturday.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Franklin Pierce University President Kim Mooney addresses the class of 2018 and others in attendance at the university’s commencement ceremony on Saturday.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Joshua Mercer, valedictorian of the class of 2018’s professional studies, offers parting words of wisdom on Saturday.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • CNN’s chief political correspondent Dana Bash was one of two honorary degree recipients at the Franklin Pierce University graduation ceremony on Saturday.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Valedictorian Eric Conte addresses his fellow classmates.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • CNN’s chief political correspondent Dana Bash was one of two honorary degree recipients at the Franklin Pierce University graduation ceremony on Saturday.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • CNN’s chief political correspondent Dana Bash was one of two honorary degree recipients at the Franklin Pierce University graduation ceremony on Saturday.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Graduating students, along with their friends and family, had to endure rain during Franklin Pierce University’s commencement on Saturday.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Dr. J. Forbes Farmer, Franklin Pierce University’s most senior faculty member, braves the rain during Saturday’s commencement.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Sushil K. Tuli, president, chairman, and CEO of Leader Bank, was one of two honorary degree recipients during Franklin Pierce University’s graduation ceremony on Saturday.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Tom Raffio, president and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, was honored as this year’s Honorable Wlater R. Peterson Citizen Leader Award. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Sushil K. Tuli, president, chairman, and CEO of Leader Bank, was one of two honorary degree recipients during Franklin Pierce University’s graduation ceremony on Saturday.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Tom Raffio, president and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, left, listens as physical therapy professor Dr. Joshua Cleland presents him with the Honorable Walter R. Peterson Citizen Leader Award. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • A sea of umbrellas and ponchos protect graduating students, along with their friends, professors, and family, during the Franklin Pierce University commencement on Saturday.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Graduating students, along with their friends and family, had to endure rain during Franklin Pierce University’s commencement on Saturday.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Margaret Bell of Wilton hugs FPU President Kim Mooney after receiving her diploma on Saturday.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Brendan Aikens receives his graduate degree diploma from FPU President Kim Moonney.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Valedictorian Eric Conte receives his degree from FPU President Kim Mooney.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Franklin Pierce University class of 2018 had to endure one more moment of adversity before graduating in  Rindge Saturday: sitting through a rainy commencement ceremony.

Despite the poor weather, positive and uplifting advice was prevalent at the ceremony, with two valedictorians, honored guests, and more asking graduates to look to the future and desire to enact positive change in the world. 

“I urge you to use your education to be vehicles of positive change… now more than ever calls for a new age of positivity, generosity, empathy, understanding, and kindness… and a little sunshine wouldn’t hurt either,” said Joshua Mercer, valedictorian for the class of 2018’s professional studies. 

Mercer – who received his bachelor’s degree in management – said that like many students, he learned to balance full-time work and school, along with spending time with family and friends. For Mercer, it was the support of his friends and family – including his wife and newborn daughter – that got him through. 

“The importance of support from our friends and family cannot be understated,” said Mercer. “This is a milestone we have all truly reached together.”

Eric Conte, valedictorian of the class of 2018’s College at Rindge, said that his experience “in the middle of nowhere Rindge” has had a dramatic effect on his life over the past few years. 

Conte – a biology major – made a point to thank some of the many that had helped him throughout his four years in Rindge, some more serious (his mother, who was there for him despite her battle with brest cancer) and others more silly (Dr. McGillicuddy, for getting him through some of the tougher Saturday nights). 

“Now that it’s our chance to finally depart into the real world, it’s up to us to make the changes we want to see to help the world advance towards being a better place,” said Conte. “I can’t think of anyone better suited for this task than the class of 2018.”

The university honored three guests on Saturday: CNN chief political corespondent Dana Bash, President, Chairman, and CEO of LEader Bank Sushil K. Tuli, and President and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental Tom Raffio. 

“It feels a little odd to be here in NH and not be chasing around presidential candidates,” said Bash, who was the recipient of an honorary degree. “When we crossed into the Granite State yesterday, I had almost a pavlovian urge to ask random people why they want to be president.”

Bash, who covered six New Hampshire primaries as a producer and corespondent, boiled her message down to one fundamental ideal: love what you do.

“First, because you are going to be spending a lot of time doing it… but second, because the more you love it, the more likely it will be for you to succeed,” said Bash. 

Sushil Tuli, who was also a recipient of an honorary degree, said that he came from a small village in Punjab, India to the United States to live out his dream, which was fulfilled in 2002 when he opened Leader Bank.

Starting with $6.5 million in capital and seven employees, Tuli has grown his company to a $1.3 billion bank with 250 employees. 

“Don’t take the world as it is, think about the world and what it could be. Be the leader, be the change maker,” said Tuli.”… try to be a leader, not a follower. When you are a leader, there is less competition.”

Raffio was this year’s Honorable Walter R. Peterson Citizen Leader Award recipient. The award is given out annually by the university to honor the late Governor’s “lifelong commitment to public service and higher education.”

“Having a lot of money or power has been shown again and again not to bring you true happiness,” said Raffio. “So ask yourselves, what you want your legacy to be? what brings you joy?”

University President Kim Mooney, a member of the class of FPU’s class of 1983, compared the members of the graduating class of 2018 to the university’s mascot: the raven. 

“We are Ravens nation. Ravens, you know that in nature the ravens are widely considered to be among the smartest of all birds,” said Mooney. “They are known to be empathetic, adaptable, cooperative, and playful. And these attributes capture the essence of Franklin Pierce ravens.”

Steven V. Camerino, chairman of the university’s board of trustees, used the womb as a metaphor for student’s connection to FPU. 

“You are about to leave a warm and nutritious womb… Your connection to Franklin Pierce doesn’t end today, it just changes from being inside the womb to helping sustain it and expand it to envelope and sustain those who come after you,” said Camerino, who urged students to continue to come to the campus and donate money. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.