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May 18. 2013 5:49PM

Former FBI head tells St. Anselm graduates it is important to give back


Abigail O'Connor, of Dover, walks back to her seat after receiving her degree during the St. Anselm College Commencement Exercises at the campus Saturday. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)
MANCHESTER — With former FBI Director Louis Freeh delivering the commencement address, St. Anselm College's 120th commencement Saturday honored members of the FBI and Boston police in attendance along with the 426 graduating students.

Members of the FBI's joint terrorism task force based out of Boston joined almost 1,000 proud parents and friends to watch St. Anslem's graduating class receive their diploma.

"One of the primary reasons (I am speaking) is the number of law enforcement graduates who come out of this institution, (law enforcement) has been very closely associated with this school for many decades, and it is a great honor to come up here and speak," Freeh said.

Freeh told the students that his core message was that they should all try to give back.

"We should all strive to help create a more perfect union," Freeh said.

Freeh also added a humorous story into the mix about how his two-year-old son pushed his four-year-old son into the pond of the Rose Garden at the White House when Freeh was being nominated to become director of the FBI by then President Bill Clinton. When President Clinton asked his youngest son if he pushed his brother into the pond and answered no, Freeh admitted that the lawyer in him was proud.

College spokesman Barbara LeBlanc said Freeh was selected to give the commencement by the President Jonathan DeFelice because of Freeh's commitment to the law and justice.

The commencement also marked the final graduation of DeFelice's career, as he is retiring this summer. When addressing his final graduating class, DeFelice became emotional at the end of his speech, holding back tears as he encouraged his students to make a difference in the world.

"The success of our graduates is due to their own hard work," DeFelice said, who added that the faculty and students' families merely give students an opportunity that they themselves have to seize.

As a surprise for DeFelice, representatives of all 24 graduating classes he oversaw joined the procession bearing their class year banners.

The student address was given by Christopher D. Tinsley, who made the audience laugh and think. Tinsley joked that he gave his speech as much thought and work as most students put into their senior thesis. "I started late last night," he joked.

On a more serious note, Tinsley thanked DeFelice for guiding the college for more than 20 years. Addressing his peers, Tinsley said, "the fact you're here today means you have lived and experienced the bigger picture."

Jim Dentremont of Yarmouth Mass., attended to watch his daughter, LeAnn, receive her diploma.

"It really is one of the most special days of my life," Dentremont said.

Dave and Maggie Masson of Nashua watched their daughter, Corrie, graduate. "We are a very proud family," Dave said as Maggie wiped away tears.

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