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River Valley Community College Celebrates: More Than 250 Earn Degrees

  • Nursing student Clay Bradley of Marlow, N.H., Natalia Brodeur, of Claremont, left, and Susan McCarthy, of Norwich, had seats in the sun at River Valley Community College commencement in Claremont yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Nursing student Clay Bradley of Marlow, N.H., Natalia Brodeur, of Claremont, left, and Susan McCarthy, of Norwich, had seats in the sun at River Valley Community College commencement in Claremont yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Occupational Therapy assistant student Lisa Thompson listens to remarks by Ronald Rioux, acting president of the Community College System of New Hampshire, during commencement at River Valley Community College. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Occupational Therapy assistant student Lisa Thompson listens to remarks by Ronald Rioux, acting president of the Community College System of New Hampshire, during commencement at River Valley Community College. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Miriam Daffodil Mumuli raises a cheer during her address to her River Valley Community College classmates during commencement last evening. Mumuli graduated with an associate degree in nursing. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Miriam Daffodil Mumuli raises a cheer during her address to her River Valley Community College classmates during commencement last evening. Mumuli graduated with an associate degree in nursing. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Nursing student Clay Bradley of Marlow, N.H., Natalia Brodeur, of Claremont, left, and Susan McCarthy, of Norwich, had seats in the sun at River Valley Community College commencement in Claremont yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Occupational Therapy assistant student Lisa Thompson listens to remarks by Ronald Rioux, acting president of the Community College System of New Hampshire, during commencement at River Valley Community College. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Miriam Daffodil Mumuli raises a cheer during her address to her River Valley Community College classmates during commencement last evening. Mumuli graduated with an associate degree in nursing. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Claremont — The crowd roared when River Valley Community College’s student guest speaker approached the podium at last night’s 45th annual commencement ceremony.

Decked in a gold honors sash and teal cord, graduate Miriam Daffodil Mumuli, of Nairobi, Kenya — grinning ear-to-ear — spoke of the importance of faculty and family role models on a student’s journey.

“(We) could not have survived this far if it was not for the support we received,” she said, as the afternoon sun shined through the banquet tents filled with more than 250 graduates and their guests. “Each one of us has a person or people whom they are grateful for and who helped them get to this day.”

Like many of the graduates, Mumuli — who came to the United States in the fall of 2010 to pursue an associate’s degree in nursing — had to overcome adversities, but hers differed slightly.

“Some of the hardest obstacles were getting used to the different cuisine and how (American’s) cook and also the extreme cold,” she said in a previous interview. “I had never seen snow before either.”

There are firsts for everyone, though, and like many of the graduates who spent their first and last college nights fighting their eyelids to complete multi-chapter reading assignments and lengthy essays, she — like them — learned to adapt and concur those adversities.

“I even learned to ski,” she said, pushing the limit one step further.

Mumuli left her country three years ago when she and a fellow Kenyan were selected by the organization Wenzi Kwa Afya to study for a career in the medical field. Mumuli, an honors student, said she hopes to take the opportunity she was given and use what she learned to continue on and complete a bachelor’s degree.

“For my future, I’d like to start a hospital in Kenya,” Mumuli said. “I am quite far away from that, but I hope to start a hospital in the rural country where they don’t have good medical help.”

For her community engagement work with the River Valley Community College Student Senate and Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, Mumuli was awarded the Activities Award during the hour and a half ceremony last night.

“She is a wonderful representative of the college, not only with her peers but among faculty and staff,” said Vice President of Student Services Valerie Mahar. “She always has wonderful ideas and is a take-action person, a ‘yes’ person.”

Many of the graduates received the highest of honors and completed degrees in career fields ranging from education and physical therapy, to machine tool technology and criminal justice.

Although some will attend two and four year programs in the fall to further their education, some will start job searching right away.

A few Upper Valley graduates said they were optimistic of their job prospects, despite years of a tough economy.

“I don’t think it’s as difficult as a lot of people make it out to be,” said Derek Snelling, of Charlestown, who received certification in massage therapy yesterday. “It’s been a long road to get to the end of this and I’m really excited to move forward with my life.”

Chelsea Hart, of West Hartford, agreed with Snelling, saying the economy and job market aren’t as dark as they look.

“I have looked a little bit and everybody loves new grads. Employers like to train you how they want you to train, so I think the market looks really good,” she said, after receiving an associate’s degree in nursing last night.

Some graduates said in order to avoid any hindrances in the market, they thought ahead and entered career fields based on prior knowledge that the field is seeking skilled workers.

“It’s a pretty good field and that’s why I went into it,” said Springfield, Vt. resident Kathleen Gelineau, who graduated with a medical laboratory technician associate’s degree. “I really enjoy doing it, but I also knew that there would be good chances for jobs.”

Jillian Decelles, of Lebanon, said she hasn’t thought too much about job opportunities in her field of business management, as she plans to continue her education first.

“I’m only half way there, but this degree means that when I step out in the real world, I’m higher up in the competition,” she said. Decelles will attend Plymouth State University in the fall.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@gmail.com.

∎ 

The following students will graduate from River Valley Community College on Friday evening, May 17, 6 p.m. at the Claremont campus:

Maria Acks, Lebanon; Miranda Albano, Enfield; Robert Anderson, Sunapee; Kathleen Audette, Lebanon; Jennifer Austin, Claremont; Corbin Avery, Charlestown; Matthew Bailey, Hartland ; Robert Bailey, Georges Mills; Lyuba Baker, Newport; Travis Baker, Enfield; Dale Bazaar, Springfield ; Joshua Bean, Cornish; ; Michaela Belville, Newport; Ashley Boardman-Butterfield, Claremont; Kelly Bosma, Claremont; Jason Bosse, Enfield; Rebecca Brasseur, Claremont; Natalia Brodeur, Claremont; Katherine Broussard, White River Junction ; Elizabeth Brown, Lyme; Deenie Bugge, Orford; Chad Butler, Claremont; Robert Callow, Lebanon; Wendy Callum, Newport; Ashleigh Carpenter, Claremont; Sara Chartier, Claremont; Yi-Hsuan Chou, Claremont; Lisa Ciambra, Orford; Susan Clifford, West Lebanon; Jason Clough, Grafton; Theresa Creighton, Claremont; David Davis, Claremont; Jillian Decelles, Lebanon; Heather DeFilippis, Newport; Micaela Dorf, South Woodstock ; Scott Drew, Claremont; Kayla Eccher, White River Junction ; Sean Edwards, Claremont; Danielle Field, Sunapee; Kristina Fitzherbert, Claremont; Karen Fogg, Lebanon; Jaclyn Foye, Claremont; Alfred Fry, Claremont; Carrie Fuller, Charlestown; Roger Furman, Enfield; Lynn Garfield, Lebanon; Barry Gay, Newport; Kathleen Gelineau, Springfield ; Jacqueline Gesek, Lebanon; Elizabeth Gross, West Lebanon; Owen Hagan, Grantham; Brenda Hamilton, Claremont; Scott Hammond, Charlestown; Cherie Hannah, Cornish; Dianne Harlow, Claremont; Chelsea Hart, West Hartford; Gillian Herdegen, Bridgewater ; Kevin Herro, White River Junction ; Ashley Hetrick, Thetford Center ; James Huff, Chelsea ; Brenda Hunt, Claremont; Leo Jarvinen, Hartland ; Michael Jenkins, Lebanon; Sean Keating, Enfield; Charles Kempton, White River Junction ; Katrina Labbie, Enfield; Jacob Labrecque, Claremont; Bryan LaFountain, Newport; Jonathan Lain, Newport; Brittany Leahy, Claremont; Dennis Lewis, Canaan; Bryanna MacConnell, Newport; Jasmine Macie, Claremont; Bonnie Marino, Guild; Peter Martin, East Thetford ; Julie Maxfield, Lyme; Susan McCarthy, Norwich ; Miles McClay, Charlestown; Kevin McFarland, Claremont; Maria Melendy, West Lebanon; Christopher Melkonian, Grafton; Eric Miller, Springfield ; Amanda Milo, Plainfield; Leslie Minckler, Claremont; Miriam Mumuli, Sunapee; Lisa Murray, Claremont; James Murray, East Corinth; Carol Nowlan, Lebanon; Kristi O’Connor, Lebanon; Selina Olmstead, White River Junction; David Osgood, Claremont; Jacinta Otsembo, Claremont; Sarah Palazzo, Windsor; Jessica Perron, Claremont; Jennifer Pratt, Claremont; Robert Randall, Meriden; Wendi Reuter-Lorenz, Windsor; Sunshyne Rice, West Lebanon; Benjamin Rogers, Cornish Flat; Christine Rollins, Orange; Margaret Ross, Lebanon; Abigail Roy, Claremont; Kimberly Sainsbury, Canaan; Kasey Schmidt, Claremont; Bryon Seace, Chelsea ; Melissa Seymour, Newport; Melissa Simpson, Charlestown; Erin Slater, Claremont; Derek Snelling, Charlestown; Emily Staudter, Perkinsville ; Michael Stearns, Enfield; Jenny Sweet, Sharon ; Darlene Tanguay, Claremont; Megan Tenney, Cornish Flat; Robert Terrill, Bradford ; Anjali Thibault, Newport; Rachel Thibodeau, Plainfield; Lisa Thompson, East Corinth ; Kate Thurston, Bradford ; Kateri Towne, Newbury; Rachel Traendly, Fairlee ; Rianna Villemaire, Charlestown; Robert Von Baltzer, Claremont; Melanie Webster, White River Junction ; Hans Wendlandt, Ascutney ; Geneva Wickizer, Claremont; Sheri Williams, Claremont; Michael Wilson, Newport; Hillary Winot, Claremont; Valerie Young, Newport.