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Timothy Aubuchon, center, from Fitchburg Mass., raises his hands when he sees himself on the Verizon Wireless Arena scoreboard during graduation ceremonies for Southern New Hampshire University on Saturday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

SNHU grads assured that 'Life is an adventure waiting to happen'

MANCHESTER - Veteran sportswriter Bob Ryan offered some rather unorthodox advice for the nearly 1,500 Southern New Hampshire University graduates who filled the floor at Verizon Wireless Arena.

"Arrange to be at the right place at the right time," he said. "Or, to put it another way: Try to be lucky."

Ryan, who retired last year after 44 years with the Boston Globe and who appears frequently on ESPN, told SNHU's Class of 2013 the trick is to be ready when an opportunity comes along. He scoffed at the ideal of a "level playing field."

"Real life doesn't work that way," he said. "All you can do is put yourself in a position such that if you get a break . you are as ready and prepared as you should be."

SNHU President Paul LeBlanc conferred associate, bachelor and graduate degrees upon 866 undergraduates and 611 graduate students during Saturday's commencement.

And LeBlanc offered the graduates a passionate response to those who would question whether a college degree is "worth it."

"That's a question that's only asked by people who work at places like The New York Times and Facebook and who already have their college degrees and will send their own kids for college degrees," he said. "It's the kind of question asked by people who failed college courses in critical thinking."

During the recent recession, the unemployment rate for those with college degrees was half what it was for those without, LeBlanc said.

Those with degrees vote more often, volunteer more hours, have better health indicators and are more likely to be involved in civic institutions, he went on.

"A college degree doesn't let you off the hook for the other ingredients of success: grit, perseverance, work ethic, character and creativity," he said. "But it is an important signal to the world."

Patricia Williams was chosen to give the student address, representing online and continuing education students. She talked about dropping out of high school 15 years ago, her decision to go back to school with her husband's support, and the difficulties of juggling her studies and raising young children.

Saturday, Williams graduated with a bachelor's degree in English language and literature. "My first time wearing a cap and gown," she said. "I assure you it's all the sweeter because of how hard I've had to work for it."

Ryan recalled when he was sitting where the graduates were 45 years ago, his life was "a blank slate."

"Yours is, too," he said. "Your life is an adventure waiting to happen. Make the most of it."


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