Sununu tells PSU grads to embrace the future


By John Koziol


Gov. Chris Sununu delivers the commencement address Saturday to the Plymouth State University Class of 2018. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)



PLYMOUTH - While warning them of the dangers of accepting unsolicited advice, Gov. Chris Sununu on Saturday nonetheless counseled the 690 members of the Plymouth State University Class of 2018 to always remember that what makes both their alma mater and New Hampshire special is a commitment to serving the greater good.


In a jocular, wide-ranging address, Sununu told the graduates and some 5,000 guests gathered for PSU's 147th commencement to look to people, not social media, to solve problems, and also to work on their hand-written, thank-you note skills.


The youngest governor in the country, Sununu said he came to the commencement without a prepared speech although he had considered what he might say, including the obvious: that the graduates needed to remember how much was still ahead of them.


He then mused on what advice he might extend - "Advice from a politician; how can we go wrong?" - which eventually led to the disclaimer about unsolicited advice, followed by a full-throated profession of love for the state of New Hampshire.


He dusted off the old chestnut about how "those of us born here were lucky, those who moved here were smart" before adding that "you don't have to be a governor" to appreciate the uniqueness of New Hampshire.



Decked out in gowns and academic regalia, Plymouth State University officials stand on the dais during Saturday's 147th commencement as members of the Class of 2018 take their seats. (JOHN KOZIOL/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)



The Legislature, for example, is among the largest in the world, he said, but is entirely predicated upon service, because "it's what we do."


While touting local control, Sununu panned social media, calling it "the bane of human existence; it's horrible." Anonymity contributes to bringing out "the worst in people," he said.


Sununu told the graduates in the Bank of New Hampshire Field House that their next five years will be uncertain ones and to embrace rather than fear them "because that is the adventure" through which learning and growth come.



Kayleigh Bennett, secretary of the Class of 2018 and student representative to the USNH Board of Trustees, welcomes classmates and guests to the 147th commencement ceremonies at Plymouth State University on Saturday. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)



PSU President Donald L. Birx reminded the Class of 2018 that its members had just completed "an awe-inspiring four years," although he noted that some of the graduates took five or even six years to complete their undergraduate studies.


However long it took, the Class of 2018 did many profound, important and fun things, said Birx, such as reviewing court cases; examining "the roots of happiness;" exploring vernal pools and cheering on their All-American and even Olympian classmates.


At Plymouth State, "we practice what we teach," said Birx, and give students the "most cutting-edge education in the country."



Gov. Chris Sununu delivers the commencement address Saturday to the Plymouth State University Class of 2018. (JOHN KOZIOL/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)