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May 18. 2013 5:07PM

Ayotte tells NEC graduates to be passionate about their work


Honorary degree recipient Sen. Kelly Ayotte (left) and New England College President Michele Perkins prepare to march with the class of 2013 on Saturday morning. (Nancy Bean Foster/Union Leader Corresspondent)

HENNIKER — As she spoke to the New England College class of 2013 on Saturday morning, commencement speaker U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., advised the students that life's twists and turns may take them exactly where they're supposed to be.

Ayotte, who received an honorary degree from the college during the 66th commencement exercises Saturday, said that as a student just out of law school, she never would have envisioned that she would one day be in Washington representing the Granite State.

"You're life will not proceed in a straight line," Ayotte told the soon-to-be graduates. "It will be full of detours."

Ayotte said that she graduated from law school and was just a young lawyer when she was asked to attend an arraignment that would change her life. From that single case in federal court, Ayotte said she realized she wanted to be working on behalf of victims in the public sector. That path led her to the Attorney General's Office, though it took some effort to get there.

"When I first applied to the AG's office, I didn't get the job," Ayotte said. "But I kept trying."

Ayotte would go on to become attorney general and then U.S. Senator, roles she is passionate about. And without passion, there is no success.

"It's going to be tough to be good at something you don't like doing," she told the graduates. "You will spend time at work so make sure you're doing something you feel passionate about."

Ayotte also asked the students to consider making New Hampshire their home, just as she did.

"I hope you will make the decision to stay here in the Granite State," she said. "It's the best decision I ever made."

College President Michele Perkins, using her favorite mode of relaxation as a metaphor, encouraged the class of 2013 to remember to stretch — something she learned to do when she first started running.

"You have stretched in your own personal way and have challenged yourselves socially, intellectually, and perhaps even physically," Perkins said. "Keep running, stay strong, and never stop stretching."

Graduate school student Amy Levesque said that with her first degree, she had reached her goal of having a business career where she could wear fancy suits, work in a tall building, and wear high heels. But she soon discovered that the city apartment she lived in was too expensive, the job was a bore, "and those heels hurt."

"I was broke, bored and had sore feet," she said.

But returning to school, she was able to follow a new path helping others through therapy.

"Curiosity opened my eyes to my possibilities," she told her classmates.

For Erin Faith Page, she and her undergraduate classmates finally had a chance to wake up on Sunday morning as adults.

"We have grown up at New England College," she said. "We finally know who we are."
nfoster@newstote.com


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