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Rindge

A new beginning for 2014 graduates

Franklin Pierce: 370 awarded degrees at university’s commencement on Saturday

  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Kenneth R. Feinberg, a lawyer who has administered funds for victims of disasters such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Boston Marathon bombings, speaks at the Franklin Pierce University commencement, after being awarded an honorary graduate degree by the university.
  • Bruce L. Ruotsala, Valedictorian for the Franklin Pierce University College at Rindge, gives his graduation speech during the University's commencement ceremony.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Louis A. Mayfield, Valedictorian for the College of Graduate & Professional Studies, gives his Valedictorian speech at commencement.
  • Franklin Pierce University graduate Courtney Rivard listens to commencement speaker John K. Castle during the graduation ceremony at Franklin Pierce on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Natasha Ray, who graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Mass Communication from Franklin Pierce University on Saturday, walks down to the graduation ceremony with the class of 2014.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.
  • Franklin Piece University students graduated on Saturday.

RINDGE — Three hundred and seventy people stepped up to the stage at Franklin Pierce University on Saturday morning as students and left it with their degrees in hand.

Alongside those getting their undergraduate and graduate degrees were two other people of note. Franklin Pierce bestowed honorary doctorates upon two recipients this year: entrepreneur and philanthropist John Castle and Kenneth Feinberg, a lawyer whose focus has been mediation and is known for the role he played in administering victim’s funds for tragedies such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Feinberg tasked the graduates with three missions.

First, he said, to remember what shaped them.

“Graduates, never forget the importance of Franklin Pierce and what it means to each and every one of you. As you have expanded your horizons over the past few years, so too, has Franklin Pierce. Maintain your allegiance to this institution. Don’t forget the role it has played in helping define who you are and who you hope to become.”

Second, he said, don’t rest on your laurels.

“Do not assume that the degree you’ve earned here today guarantees future success. Very little in life is guaranteed,” said Feinberg.

One thing has been made very clear to him in his career of administering to those affected by violent tragedies, Feinberg said. “Bad things happen to good people every day in our nation. Where is it written that life is fair? It is not. Instead, life has a way of altering the most carefully designed plans. Do not rest on your accomplishments.”

Feinberg concluded by saying, “Finally, a personal note, which really reinforces the important mission of Franklin Pierce University: that each of you become leaders of conscious, instilled with a sense of community.”

Castle encouraged students that even if they were not pursuing higher education, to always continue learning. “You will face a lifetime of choices, decisions and forks in the road. You will need, at various times, all the knowledge that you have gained, the skills you have sharpened and the resolve you have stiffened while within these walls...Education is not a static thing,” he said. “It is an ongoing, life-long process. And we encourage you to embrace that challenge. I know, personally, I am 73 years old, but I learn a few new things every day.”

Franklin Pierce University also awarded the Peterson Award to Chancellor Emeritus of the Community College System of New Hampshire J. Bonnie Newman. The award, named for the late Gov. Walter Peterson, was created in 2011 to honor Peterson’s lifelong commitment to public service and higher education in the state of New Hampshire; the award honors an individual for extraordinary commitment to public service, selfless contributions to higher education, and high moral character.

Valedictorian Bruce Ruotsala described his experience as a first-generation college student, and coming up against views often contrary to his own. Louis Mayfield, valedictorian for the College of Graduate & Professional Studies, talked about his struggle as a high school student, and finally reaching his academic stride during his graduate studies, and now moving on to further schooling at the New Hampshire Law School.

Like their valedictorians, other graduating students were also anticipating what comes next for them. Some are moving on to yet more higher education, while others will be entering their chosen careers.

Kimberly Barthelemy of Bedford said that she would be taking her anthropology degree to the next level and seeking a master’s degree in archeology. “I want to be an archeologist and work in Greenland and Iceland and Canada. I want to do Viking-age and saga archeology,” she said. To prepare, Barthelemy will be working this summer at Monadnock Archeological Consulting as an archeological field technician.

“I feel very excited and very well prepared to go on and see what the future has in store for me,” said Barthelemy about her graduation.

Bianca Acebron Peco of Bow said Saturday that she was hoping to work in the federal government, or perhaps enter politics. That has been a focus of hers while attending Franklin Pierce for a political science degree, with a minor in security and political studies. As a senior, Acebron Peco was the president of her class and the Democrat Club. Student government was a big part of her college experience, she said, so she hopes to take those skills into the professional arena.

“I’m going to take those tools and apply them and come out on top,” she said.

Bradley Arena, of Abington, Mass., said he’ll also be pursuing a federal career — but not in politics. A criminal justice graduate, Arena hopes to enter federal law enforcement, most likely pursuing a career in the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“I definitely think they have prepared me [for that job],” said Arena of his college professors. “The professors have a lot of experience in the field, so they’re able to bring their experience into the classroom, and show you what it’s like to work on the streets.”

About leaving Franklin Pierce, he said, “It’s definitely bittersweet, but I’m excited to go. I did my time here, and I want to start a new chapter and begin working.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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