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May 11. 2013 10:21PM

Shaheen to KSC grads: 'Learn how to fix it'


Kayleigh Corrigan sits under a whimsical umbrella as a heavy rain soaks students and others at the Keene State College commencement on Fiske Quad Saturday. (MEGHAN PIERCE/Union Leader Correspondent)

KEENE - Caps and gowns got soaked at the Keene State College commencement Saturday afternoon, despite efforts to speed up the conferring of diplomas.
This year's class of 1,222 graduates is the largest in the college's history.

Gray skies hung over Keene Saturday morning, but the rain didn't start to fall until just before the early afternoon commencement, held outdoors on Fiske Quad.

Interim President Jay Kahn streamlined the program by striking several speakers and moving straight from senior class remarks by Alison Hammell and the commencement address by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen to the conferment of diplomas to get graduates and their families out of the rain as soon as possible.

The Class of 2013 are children of the '90s, Hammell said, who grew up listening to pop star Britney Spears, boy band 'N SYNC and watching the "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" on television.

It is also a generation that grew up witnessing terror attacks and super storms, and saw such technology as the wireless Internet ushered into the Keene State College dorms.

"We are a generation of change, technology and hope," she said. "Graduates, continue to make your dreams come true and remember Keene State College will always be there for you."

Shaheen made light of the rain, saying it was a day they would always remember.

She lauded their generation - and Keene State College students specifically - for their activism and volunteerism, but urged them to take it a step further.

"You have to do more than vote in presidential elections and tweet about issues," she said. "I'd be the first to recognize that politics has too often turned off young voters. But that doesn't mean that you should give up."

Democracy requires active participation of its citizens, she said.

Quoting anthropologist Margaret Meade, she said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Shaheen also talked about how New Hampshire National Guard Chief Warrant Charlie Morgan, who died early this year, had made a difference.

"Despite the fact that she was dying of cancer, she devoted herself to ending discriminatory practices against same-sex couples in the military," she said.

"If you see something that needs fixing, learn how to fix it . Run for public office. You won't win every battle, but the only way you will truly lose is if you choose to sit out the debate. I can guarantee you will never regret making the effort," Shaheen said the congratulated the graduates.


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