By DAN SEUFERT
PLYMOUTH – Standing at the podium in front of nearly 1,400 of her fellow graduates, Class of 2013 president Stephanie Melo looked up to the bright blue sky and reached her hand into the warm spring breeze.
“Life is like the ice storm we had in April,” Melo said. “Look what happened after the ice storm; it’s been 70 degrees ever since.”
“All of our hard work has paid off,” she said.
Bachelor’s and master’s degrees were awarded at Plymouth State University’s 142nd commencement, as were certificates of advanced graduate studies.
Commencement speaker Richard Solomon was given an honorary degree of humane letters. Solomon is the former president of the United States Institute of Peace. He is credited with playing a central role in negotiating international agreements and peace treaties, such as the first United Nations “Permanent Five” agreement.
Solomon began his remarks with a history lesson.
“I’m a child of the 20th century, a time of the Cold War, and genocide . a daunting and depressive chapter of history that you didn’t ask for,” he said.
But many good things came from the last century as well, he said, like “miracle drugs,” longer life spans, higher living standards, greater communications and the information revolution.
“You inherit this complex legacy of the 20th century, but you can be agents of change,” he said. “If that sounds like happy talk, ask a woman in Afghanistan why the U.S. is a beacon of hope for women around the world.”
He also asked graduates to “promote those social values that we honor.”
“The Ten Commandments are not the 10 suggestions,” he said.