BRUNSWICK — For South Portland Police Chief Edward Googins, Bowdoin College’s graduation was the end of an era.

He was watching the youngest of his three children, who all went to Maine colleges, walk across the stage Saturday at Bowdoin College to collect his diploma.

“He has had a tremendous experience,” said Googins.

With his son, E.J., a math and computer science major, headed for a job in research and development at the Mitre Corp. in Bedford, Mass., Googins said he was extremely excited and proud.

Googins and thousands of other proud parents, relatives and friends were on hand for the 208th commencement at Maine’s oldest college during which 464 graduates, 55 from Maine, received degrees. The ceremony took place inside the Sidney J. Watson Arena at the private, liberal arts college.

Waiting in line for the ceremony to begin, some graduates said they not only received an education during the past four years, they learned to love Maine.

“I had never been to Maine until I visited Bowdoin. I have grown very fond,” said Billy Bergner, an economics major from Fairfield, Conn., who is headed to a job in finance and technology in Boston.

Bess Carter, an environmental and government major from Charlottesville, Va., said she loves Maine so much she is planning to stay in the state. “I fell in love with Maine,” said Carter, who is searching for a job in Portland.

The college awarded honorary degrees to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Sri Lankan poet Jean Arasanayagam, American Civil War historian David Blight, former Burberry chief executive officer Rose Marie Bravo, Island Institute founder and president Philip Conklin, and trustee emerita C. Lee Herter. Honorary degree recipients spoke at talks earlier in the weekend.

While driving rain and blustery conditions forced the Bowdoin College graduation inside for the first time in 27 years, the mood was jubilant Saturday as graduates marched into the arena to the sound of the Chandler’s Band playing “Seventy-Six Trombones.”

Bowdoin forgoes the traditional well-known keynote speaker in favor of two graduating seniors. Past student speakers have included the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1825, Arctic explorer Robert Peary in 1877 and biologist and researcher Alfred Kinsey in 1916.

This year’s ceremony included other homegrown orators.

State Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, told graduates that they are now responsible for more than their own development and it is now their turn to be responsible for the country’s prosperity and care for the needy.

“You are responsible for moving the ball down the road,” said Gerzofsky.

College President Barry Mills urged students to call on the leadership skills they learned at Bowdoin with a sense of humility and humor as they leave the protected world of academia, known at Bowdoin as the “Bowdoin bubble.”

Student speaker Hannah Glover, an earth and oceanographic science major from Durham, N.H., asked her classmates to view their graduation as a call to action.

“We are a generation with an immense power. It is time to show our strength,” Glover said.

Student speaker RaiNesha Miller, a psychology major from Birmingham, Ala., told her fellow graduates to set aside self-doubt as they go out into the world.

“You have to believe in yourself if you are to conquer your fears,” Miller said.

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