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  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Lynn Angove dances to the recessional song, Firework by Katie Perry as the 2011 graduating class of Nashua Community College makes their way out of the tent, Saturday morning.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Angela Mercado fixes Tresaann O'Connor's regalia before the start of Saturday morning's Nashua Community College graduation.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Jessica Garcia fixes the zipper on her gown before Saturday morning's graduation at Nashua Community College.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    US Senator Jeanne Shaheen claps during her address to Saturday's graduates of Nashua Community College.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Three year-old Isabell Miller blows bubbles while standing by her mother's side during Nashua Community College's graduation, Saturday.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Alan Higgins grabs his tassle on the way down the ramp from the stage during Saturday morning's graduation at Nashua Community College.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Samantha Kearns throws a handfull of glitter and confetti as she crosses the stage during Saturday morning's Nashua Community College graduation.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Erin Noonan walks down the ramp from the stage after getting her diploma during Saturday's Nashua Community College graduation.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Devin O'Connor, left, and Joshua Raftor, right, turn their tassles at the end of Saturday morning's Nashua Community College graduation.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Mike Landry turns into his row at the start of Satureday's Nashua Community College graduation.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris

    Orien White walks toward the tent where the 2011 Nashua Community College graduation took place.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Graduates walk toward the tent where Saturday morning's Nashua Community College graduation took place.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Lucy Quintal takes a photo before the start of Saturday morning's Nashua Community College graduation.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Matthew Soroko sits in the atrium of Nashua Community College Saturday morning, before the start of the school's graduation ceremony.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Amanda Morrell, right, joking makes a kissy face toward Alexandra Kulow as she helps her with her robe before Saturday morning's Nashua Community College graduation.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Kerwin Kanhai-Singh waits for Saturday morning's Nashua Community College graduation to get underway while sitting in his seat.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Chancellor of the Community College System of New Hampshire, Richard Gustafson addresses students of Nashua Community College's 2011 graduating class during Saturday's commencement ceremonies on the school's campus.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Community College System of New Hampshire Trustee, Connie Roy-Czyzowski reaches to remove her glasses while speaking with Nashua Community College's 2011 graduating class, Saturday morning.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    David Bradley kisses Nashua Community College graduate Meghann Bresnahan shortly after the commencement ceremony finished on the school's campus.
Sunday, May 22, 2011

Community college grads move on

NASHUA – State representative Randy Brownrigg was a little nervous and sweating, dressed too warmly for the 70-degree Saturday in his black cap and gown.

“I haven’t put one of these one since high school, about 30 years ago now,” he said.

Brownrigg, 48, of Hudson, graduated with an associate’s degree in business administration from Nashua Community College on Saturday, picking up his degree along with 294 other students.

Many of the graduates on Saturday spoke about their interesting paths to a degree, with Brownrigg as a key example of the “nontraditional student.”

He retired from the Navy in 2002, after 20 years in the service, and started working but soon decided he wanted to further his education. He plans to continue that effort in the fall and attend Southern New Hampshire University.

In the meantime, he’s learning a lot about state government as the state’s newest representative from District 27; he was elected last November. His experience has helped him learn how to “sell your ideas” in the statehouse and be confident, which are also key skills for a marketing job he hopes to land in the future.

He didn’t see himself here 20 years ago, but as he looked around at his fellow classmates in the business administration program, many of them half his age or younger, he spoke proudly about their shared accomplishment.

“It’s been a great experience,” he said. “It’s a very good school. The professors here are fantastic.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen gave the commencement address and applauded Nashua Community College for its dedication to helping a varied student body every year. She said their education will help graduates find jobs and excel in New Hampshire, even in unfortunate economic times.

“Because of your accomplishments here, you are prepared to excel in the 2011 economy,” she said.

The demographic of the community college’s 40th graduating class was an incredible mix of young and old, but they’re all looking toward using their experience to move forward with a career.

Ashley Furman, 23, of Hudson, came to Nashua Community College a few years after graduating Alvirne High School because she was “sick of her job” and wanted to pursue an education.

Now, with her associate’s degree in human services, she plans to go to Springfield College in Boston this fall and get a master’s degree in social work. She admitted she’s a little scared of the job market after school, especially in her chosen field, but she was more concentrated on graduation day than what lies ahead.

Craig Bridge, 20, of Hollis, graduated with an associate’s degree in liberal arts and plans to attend Daniel Webster College this fall for mechanical engineering.

Melanie Hildreth, 21, of Nashua, works a bank teller job at Bank of America across the street from the college. She said she’ll continue doing that while living at home and looking for a different outlet to use her associate’s degree in business administration and small business entrepreneurship.

Crystal Fauvel, 20, of Lowell, Mass., studied marketing with Brownrigg and graduated with an associate’s in science degree in business administration. She works in a bar in Lowell and hopes to find a different job soon, but she admitted she still has a lot to learn before jumping deep into a marketing career.

“I don’t know everything yet, but I’ll learn as I work,” she said.

Matt Swartz, 24, lives in Nashua but came down to the city’s community college from Vermont. He joined the paralegal program because he was told it was “unparalleled” and graduated Saturday happy with his experience.

Swartz said he wants to work for a while and apply to law school in the near future. He doesn’t have a job lined up right now but said he wasn’t “too worried” about it yet.

Jeanna Jackson, 24, of Milford, is an assistant manager at VIP Parts, Tires and Service in Nashua. She plans to stay in Greater Nashua with her fiance and continue at VIP for a while. She likes her job and the local business gives her good experience to add to her associate’s degree in small business entrepreneurship.

Kathy Perchenko, 21, of Nashua, also graduated with an associate’s degree in small business entrepreneurship. She works at Newbury Comics full-time but has applied for an accounting job in Boston.

Perchenko attended Keene State College after high school, but soon transferred to Nashua Community College because it was close to home. Her experience has been valuable and affordable, she said, and she hopes it can translate into a career.

Even longtime workers take advantage of the local community college.

Steve Soale, 44, works at FairPoint Communications in Nashua as a technician and finished his associate’s degree in telecommunications through the FairPoint Next Step program, which helps employees further their education through the company.

Soale and his co-workers spent one day each week for the past four years taking classes and roaming the campus as the COGs of the college – the “Creepy Old Guys,” Soale said.

“You build a camaraderie with people from all over the state,” he said.

He said the day was “bittersweet” because now he and his coworkers will return to the normal five-day work weeks that they’d been lucky enough to avoid for the past four years. The program has been a great step forward for his job though, he said.

The future looks different for each student after Saturday’s graduation, but no matter what it’s a little brighter with an associate’s degree that will create new opportunities.

“As graduates of Nashua Community College, doors are going to open for you,” said Connie Roy-Czyzowski, a member of the Community College System of New Hampshire’s board of trustees, during her address to the graduates. “Go out there and do something remarkable.”

Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or ckittle@nashuatelegraph.com.