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"Frozen" Director / Writer Jennifer Lee Delivers Inspiring Speech to University of New Hampshire Grads

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Jennifer Lee delivers commencement speech to her alma mater University of New Hampshire

Jennifer Lee ’92, director/writer of the Walt Disney Animation Studios film “Frozen,”
spoke at the University of New Hampshire’s 144th commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 17, 2014.
Photo Credit: Mark Bolton

DURHAM, N.H. - University of New Hampshire commencement speaker Jennifer Lee '92 encouraged graduates and guests to banish self-doubt during the university's 144th commencement held Saturday, May 17, 2014. More than 2,200 undergraduate and 488 graduate students -- including 55 military veterans -- ranging in age from 20 to 74 years old and representing 42 states and 17 foreign countries received degrees. 

"When you are free from self-doubt, you fail better," said Lee, director/writer of the Walt Disney Animation Studios film "Frozen." "You accept criticism and listen."
"If the first draft of 'Frozen' was the one we made ... it wouldn't be 'Frozen' and I wouldn't be standing here, for sure," she added. 

Lee recalled her UNH days with fondness, singling out living in Stoke Hall, a course called "Foods and Dudes," and a dear friend whose untimely death her junior year inspired her to move beyond her own insecurity and pursue a life in New York City that led to a master's degree in film from Columbia University. 

Lee is the first woman to direct an animated feature film for Walt Disney Animation Studios. In March, she took home an Oscar® for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards. She also is the first female director to have a film surpass the $1 billion earning mark and the first writer at any major animation studio to become a director.

Prior to Lee's speech, Faculty Marshall Nancy Kinner, professor of civil and environmental engineering, led the crowd in her own Wildcat adaptation of the "Frozen" hit "Let It Go." UNH President Mark W. Huddleston peppered his remarks with "Frozen" puns before taking a more serious tone. "Today is all about you-about celebrating your success, your triumph over a myriad of challenges, academic and otherwise," Huddleston told the graduates.

* NOTE: This article originally appeared on the University of New Hampshire News web page. For more information about the UNH Commencement, see: http://www.unh.edu/news/releases/2014/05/bp17commencement.cfm#ixzz324UlF4Dg 

Complete speech courtesy of the University of New Hampshire YouTube Channel: