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Sen. Murphy Tells Graduates the Small Stuff Matters

Release Date:
5/20/2013 9:00 AM

 Chris Murphy, 500px, commencement 
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy addresses the afternoon Commencement ceremony

by Dave Cranshaw
UNH Today Editor

Just over a month after being elected to the United States Senate, Chris Murphy was preparing for a pre-holiday trip to New York City with his wife and kids. While they were waiting for the train, Murphy was informed of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“On days like Dec. 14, we question what kind of people we really are,” he told more than 500 graduates during UNH’s afternoon Commencement ceremony. “Are we truly good inside or is goodness just a learned behavior that some of us possess?”                 

That question, he said, has been answered through the outpouring of support from millions of people around the world. “I learned that the small stuff – the ordinary, everyday acts of kindness and generosity – matter just as much as the big, sprawling themes of your life,” he said. “It was the accumulation of all these small acts that helped move forward the process of healing.”

Murphy said the last six months have been the most challenging he has faced during his nearly 10 years in public office. “I have seen awful things, but I have also been inspired to live a life full of more everyday acts of kindness than the one that I lived before Dec. 14.

“You are going to take your degree and do something great with your life,” he told the graduates. “You are going to pursue the career of your dreams. You are going to have the resources to build a wonderful loving family. But while you are busy living your life, remember the small stuff, the ordinary acts of kindness that might not mean much to you, can have a transformative impact on the people you touch.”

In concluding his remarks, he quoted the poet William Wordsworth. “That best portion of a good man’s life are his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love. Do those and you will truly be great.”

In his remarks, John Culmone, president of the Graduate Student Council, said what made his time at UNH most memorable were the students from all walks of life with whom he had the opportunity to interact.

"Do all you can to seek new experiences, and be open to fresh ideas, differing opinions, and foreign concepts,” said Culmone, who graduated with a master’s degree in forensic science. Colleges promote this attitude because it helps us to grow both professionally and personally, and I hope you will approach all of your future ventures in this spirit."

View photos from the ceremony,

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960. The University operates a satellite campus in Tuscany, Italy, and offers programs at several locations throughout Connecticut and in New Mexico. UNH provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities. The University enrolls approximately 6,400 students, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and College of Lifelong & eLearning, UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. UNH students have access to more than 50 study abroad programs worldwide, and its student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.