A commencement speech that touched on elephant excrement, the stupidity of drinking and driving, and Balzac's thoughts on the relations between the sexes delighted graduates of University of Hartford Sunday, so much so that they gave novelist and commencement speaker Bernard Cornwall a standing ovation.
The line that got the biggest applause, however, came near the beginning of his speech, when Cornwall acknowledged the futility of his advice, saying: "You will forget everything I've told you three hours from now, because that's one effect of alcohol."
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But the 1,100 or so members of the Class of 2013 won't forget their four years at the college.
Michael Zee, of Westchester, N.Y., said his fondest memory was meeting his girlfriend of nearly two years, Nicole Petit.
"He's in a fraternity, I'm in a sorority, that's how we met," said Petit, who will return to New York City now. She had originally planned to major in health sciences, but with a light load, couldn't graduate in four years in that major. So she switched to psychology. Now she has to decide whether she continues with psychology graduate school or works on a nursing degree.
Zee plans to take the test to become a New York City police officer. "I want job security," he said. His father retired from the NYPD two years ago, he said.
Ted Hooker came to the University of Hartford from Colombia, and after he graduated with a degree in electronic engineering technology in December, found a job as an electrical designer in Bloomfield in February. "I love it," he said. He walked in May because it was too expensive for his extended family to fly up from South America in December. More than 20 family members attended.
Chris Dziurgot of Wallingford has a couple job interviews to look forward to this week, at engineering firms in Connecticut. "I was the captain of the race car team," he said, which taught him how to "have a project come together on deadline."
As he stood in line, waiting to file into the large tent where the ceremony would be held, he said, "I'm not anywhere near as nervous as I thought I would be."
Brian Tarcy of Cape Cod stood under that tent. His twin daughters Marissa and Kayli were both graduating with marketing degrees, and they're the last of his four children to graduate college.
"I can remember them being in cribs," Tarcy said. "It seems like it was yesterday."
Marissa and Kayli Tarcy have some good job leads, he said, but he said he wasn't pulling for them to choose Boston, or even New England.
"I'm hoping they follow their dreams, wherever it takes them, and they find happiness," he said. "Maybe they'll move to a cool place, and I can visit them there."