Press Releases

ICYMI: Kuster Addresses Keene State College Class of 2023 During Commencement

Keene, N.H. — On Saturday, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) addressed the Class of 2023 at Keene State College during their commencement ceremony. During her speech, Kuster urged the graduating class to use the skills, resilience, and experience they learned on campus to create change in the real world.


Kuster’s full address is available here, and her speech as prepared is available below.


To President Treadwell, Provost Beeby, faculty, family, and staff, and most importantly to the graduates, thank you for inviting me to join you for this momentous occasion.


Let me start by saying to each and every one of you – you are an extraordinary and resilient class of 2023!


Adjusting to college is no easy feat – and you all did it while contending with a global pandemic.


For that, you and your families should be tremendously proud.


Your ability to adapt, adjust, and overcome adversity is an inspiration to carry with you for the rest of your life as you head out into the real world.


Let me tell you, the real world desperately needs your passion, your purpose, and your perseverance.


What I want to instill in you today as you receive your degrees and embark on your next chapter is the power and importance of the resilience your class has displayed time and time again.


The strength that comes from getting back up after you are knocked down. The fortitude to keep on keeping on. 


Even on days when it’s hard to even get out of bed, and it's just … left foot, right foot, left foot.


The world is full of challenges – but because of your education and experience here at Keene State, you now have the tools and the capacity to tackle these hurdles head-on and change the world for the better.


After 6 and a half decades, I can safely say that my biggest wins and greatest accomplishments have come from overcoming big obstacles, even when it felt like everyone was standing in my way.


My challenges came from gender discrimination and inequality. 


When I spoke up, questioning the status quo, I was told time and again, “You’re rocking the boat, Annie, you’re rocking the boat.”


Your generation may face a different set of challenges than mine. 


But as I look out into this crowd, I know you have the tenacity to tackle them head-on.


And that’s because many of you already have been rocking the boat right here on campus.


As I visited Keene State over the years, I have seen firsthand how ready and willing you are to stand up for what you believe in to create meaningful change.


From your Bystander Prevention Program, which brings students together to stop the culture of sexual assault;


To your Global Culture Club, which serves diverse student populations;


To your student newspapers, which work to shed light on what is really happening on your campus and in your community;


To your Eco-Reps, working to create a positive and lasting sustainability culture on the campus you know and love;


To your Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Club, working to bring attention to human rights violations;


And your student government, practicing what it means to represent your peers;


To see you continue these clubs and groups, even during a pandemic, is inspiring, and it gives me so much hope for our future.


The future you are going to create and define.


So, as you leave here today, my advice to you is to stand up and speak out. 


Don’t be afraid to get up when you are knocked down. 


Use your voice and your talents to make the world a better place for all. 


Be bold. Be brave. Be kind. 


Remember the skills you learned right here on this campus to create meaningful change. 


Whether your calling is in the workplace, in your community, or even in the halls of Congress, you are worthy, and your voice is powerful. 


Trust me. I know from experience. 


We need you now, more than ever before, to rock the boat and create change. 


Thank you, and congratulations to the mighty class of 2023!


You are going to do amazing things.