WATERVILLE — The 169 students in Thomas College’s graduating class are poised to become leaders in a rapidly changing world, speakers told them Saturday afternoon during the college’s 119th commencement ceremony.

“There is no one in this world who is better situated to succeed than you,” said commencement speaker Peter Vigue, president of the Pittsfield-based construction company Cianbro.

College President Laurie Lachance, who was overseeing her first commencement since being hired in November, echoed that sentiment.

“The world around us is changing and the pace of change is accelerating,” she said. “The world economy is global. It is technology driven, knowledge-driven, innovation-driven.”

Lachance urged graduates to continue to challenge themselves as they enter the workforce.

“You cannot fight these trends, and you cannot afford to ignore them,” she said. “We must fully embrace them and adapts ourselves, our skills, our businesses and our institutions to operate in the new economic framework.”

Despite the chaotic world, she told the graduates, “you have earned yourself the greatest protection from this inevitable destruction: an education.”

Small pockets of families and friends in the estimated 2,000-strong crowd cheered against a background of applause as each student crossed the stage to accept degrees and congratulatory handshakes. Some hurried across the stage, their cheeks flushing, while others sauntered, basking in the moment. One student emitted a piercing, protracted whoop for himself in celebration when presenter Lisa Desautels-Poliquin, vice president of student affairs, announced his name from the podium.

“We’re taking it back,” Desautels-Poliquin joked.

Steven Beane, of North Attleboro, Mass., spoke on behalf of the day division; Bonnie Buckmore, of Fairfield, spoke on behalf of the continuing education division; and Nate Marquis, of Fairfield, who works in Benton and Oakland, spoke on behalf of the graduate division.

The three class marshals are Shelby Gilcott, of Norridgewock; Nathan Mitchell, of Gardiner; and Owen Becker, of Rowley, Mass.

Waterville resident Dr. Kenneth Green, former chief anesthetist at MaineGeneral Medical Center, received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

Vigue, who received an honorary doctor of science degree in business administration, told the students what he says when someone asks him how they can become successful.

“Success begins with believing in yourselves, developing a mental toughness that allows you to get up when you’re down,” he told the graduates. “It’s about being enthusiastic and passionate about everything you do, being positive and not negative.”

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287
[email protected]

 

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