An Uncommon Commencement
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"If Mickey Mouse were speaking, I'd be here. If it were snowing, I'd be here," said Lisa Rogers of Londonderry, N.H., who was the first person to settle into a bleacher seat at 6 a.m., almost four hours before the ceremony began. "This is just a huge event in my son's life." She hoped to take cell-phone photos of that son, Padraic McKenzie '07, to send instantly to his brother and sister, both in the military many states away.

By 7 a.m., a steady stream of people poured into the stadium. They had been warned by the university to arrive up to three hours early in anticipation of larger-than-usual crowds, larger-than-usual traffic headaches and security-clearance delays.

"Bracelets! Let's see them! Snap them on for us!" UNH hall director Gloria Nolan called out cheerfully as she checked arrivals at the field's side entrance. Anyone wearing a graduation robe was greeted with a hearty "Congratulations!"

The bleachers quickly filled with the festive colors of spring, despite the slate-gray sky. Bright red and yellow slickers dotted the stands like tulips and marigolds; thin plastic ponchos, handed out by UNH commencement staffers, matched the delicate yellow-green of early spring trees.

"Welcome to the beautiful spring day!" was Nancy Kinner's tongue-in-cheek opening salutation. The chief faculty marshal and professor of civil and environmental engineering noted that it had rained the day classes began for the Class of 2007 four years earlier, a clear predictor of commencement weather.

Next was a soulful rendition of the national anthem by English department lecturer Reginald Wilburn. His performance was so stirring it rated mention by Clinton, whose introductory acknowledgements segued nicely to his main theme, the power of recognizing each other and working together for the greater good.

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