Vargas to NECC Grads: ‘Listen With Empathy, Act Courageously’

State Rep. Andy Vargas delivered the commencement address to Northern Essex Community College's Class of 2018 on May 19, 2018. (Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News)

State Rep. Andy Vargas delivered the commencement address to Northern Essex Community College's Class of 2018 on May 19, 2018. (Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News)

Nearly 1,100 students from Northern Essex Community College received diplomas at Saturday’s 56th annual commencement exercises, praised for their tenacity by keynote speaker state Rep. Andy Vargas.

During his address, Vargas recognized several graduating students for their “resilience, purpose and desire to serve” in his commencement address.

“Many of you have overcome numerous obstacles to get here: Working two or three jobs, taking extra shifts, raising a family—some of you even overcoming trauma,” said Vargas. “The resiliency of this class is well represented here today.”

Vargas reflected on his career in public service when doling out advice to new graduates as they embark on careers in the fields of business, education and health services, among others.

“Don’t be afraid to look stupid. When I ran for City Council, I was 21, and people thought I was crazy. I was! The fact is, I wouldn’t be a state representative today if I wasn’t willing to look stupid,” Vargas argued. “You've got to be willing to take risks, stick your neck out, step outside your comfort zone and learn how to handle disappointment and failure.”

After all, said Vargas, “out of failure comes wisdom and poise.”

“Chase the truth incessantly. Listen with empathy and act courageously in service to others,” summed up the politician. “At the end of the day, we're living on this planet for a short amount of time. Live it with love, empathy, and an unwavering commitment to your purpose.”

Northern Essex’s Class of 2018 represented students aged 17-68. The youngest grad was Thomasina Glenn, the teen daughter of NECC President Lane Glenn, who received her associate degree in general studies two weeks before graduating from Amesbury High.