UMaine graduates record number

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ORONO (AP) – Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards urged graduates to make a difference Saturday as the University of Maine awarded degrees to more than 2,000 students.

Two separate commencement ceremonies were scheduled to accommodate the Class of 2006, the largest in the university’s history.

Edwards, who served in the Senate from North Carolina and was the Democratic candidate for vice president in 2004, focused on poverty in his remarks and said current day challenges are global.

“The world wants to know, do we actually care about the huge moral issues that face us here and around the world?’ And this is where you come in. I’ve seen young people make changes. … I know how much difference you can make because I’ve seen it. And I’m asking you to do it again.”

Hundreds of other of students were receiving diplomas across the state.

In Bangor, Sen. Susan Collins was tapped to address graduates at Husson College. In Portland, the University of Southern Maine conferred degrees at the Cumberland County Civic Center with a touch of show business.

Victoria Rowell, who grew up in foster care in Portland and went on to become an Emmy-nominated actress, was the commencement speaker at USM.

“Press on, no matter what the obstacles,” Rowell told what was reported to be a record number of more than 1,100 graduates and 7,000 guests.

At the University of Maine at Farmington, former Gov. Angus King was asked to deliver the commencement speech. In Portland at the University of New England, Olympic gold medal winner Joan Benoit Samuelson was picked to be the featured speaker.

Other commencements are scheduled around the state at the University of Maine at Machias, UMaine at Presque Isle, UMaine at Fort Kent and UMaine at Augusta, as well as at Eastern Maine, Northern Maine and York County community colleges.

For her address at UMA, Dale McCormick, the former state treasurer who heads the Maine State Housing Authority, took up the virtue of personal courage and characterized it as a habit that can be cultivated, beginning by asking small questions.

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