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U.S. Sen. Shaheen speaks to Shippensburg grads

Wind was also a participant in university commencement

May 08, 2010|By RICHARD F. BELISLE
  • Tyneisha Irvin of Philadelphia waves Saturday to her family from atop her chair at Shippensburg University's graduation.
Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

SHIPPENSBURG, PA. -- As a Shippensburg University graduate, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen told a class of 1,008 graduates assembled Saturday morning at a windy football field that she never recalled anything said by the speaker at her 1969 commencement.

Shaheen, New Hampshire's first female governor from 1997 to 2003, and its first female U.S. senator since 2008, told the graduates that she has wonderful memories of her years at Shippensburg.

"Some that I wouldn't want to make public, as I'm sure you wouldn't, either," she said.

But those years had a "profound impact on my life and sparked my interest in politics," said Shaheen, who presented the commencement address at Saturday's graduation ceremony.

Life in 1965, when Shaheen entered Shippensburg as a freshman, was not like it is in 2010, she said.

"You will face a vastly different world then I did when I graduated," she said.

Eighteen-year-olds did not have the right to vote, yet 18-year-old males who graduated that year were subject to the draft and were being sent to fight in the Vietnam War, a war in full fury in the late 1960s.

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Shaheen also remembered the fervor of the anti-war protesters. She said she opposed the war.

"(President) Nixon wasn't listening to us," she said. Her outlook changed because of one professor who told her that protesting does little and that change only comes through the ballot box.

None of today's technological advances, including cell phones, iPads, Facebook and Twitter, were around in 1969.

"I wonder how they got along without them," she said.

Wind also was a significant participant in Saturday's commencement, blowing hats off the heads of graduates and faculty along with the band's sheet music,

Shippensburg has about 8,300 students, including 6,900 undergraduates and 1,300 graduate students plus a faculty staff of more than 350.

Diplomas were handed out to graduates from the John L. Grove College of Business, the College of Education and Human Services and the College of Arts and Sciences.

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