May 17, 2011

At Chester College: 'Listen to your hearts'

A future so bright she has to wear shades: Vanessa LaBaoy of Connecticut heads into the Stockbridge Theatre auditorium Saturday morning, where she and the other 37 Chester College graduates would receive their diplomas.
News Correspondent
CHESTER -- As intimate gatherings go, there are few college commencements that cut to the chase quite like that of Chester College.
Saturday, 38 graduates sat front and center at Stockbridge Theatre as guests of honor for their 2011 commencement ceremony, marking the end of their undergraduate experience.

As Chester College President Robert Baines would quickly tell you, despite their numbers, Chester is about the quality, not the quantity, of its graduates.

In his opening remarks, Baines reflected on words spoken during last year’s University of Utah commencement by that state’s former governor, Jon Huntsman Jr.

Baines said Huntsman’s words, which bore repeating, implored graduates to do five things.

“Find yourself. Find a cause. Face failure. Find someone to love. And find meaning in your life,” said Baines.

He said finding their way to Chester was the first step, as it attracts students who have set their hearts on a career involving the pursuit of their right-brained
“As artists, writers and thinkers, you’re well on your way to finding yourselves,” Baines said. 
Blaine Fisher, Student Life Coordinator for Chester College, leadsSide B,
 the college's newly established choir, in singing the National Anthem
during the commencement ceremony
The small, creative liberal arts college each year sends its graduates out into the world with a body of work they have produced in one of several disciplines, including photography, graphic design, poetry, literature, professional writing and mixed media.
Part of the commencement celebration includes a multimedia presentation, “The Creative Endeavors of the Class of 2011,” which showcases the work of each of the 38 graduates on a large screen in the front of the auditorium.

Another highlight, and new this year, was a performance of the National Anthem by the newly formed Chester College
 choir, Side B, led by Student Life Coordinator Blaine Fisher. As Baines introduced the choir he said, like most everything that has developed organically from the interests of the student body, the choir was the result of someone with a good idea who saw a need, and a way, and then made it happen.
Baines reminded graduates that while this day marked the end of their education at Chester, it also marked the beginning of whatever comes next.

“It’s up to you to continue to listen to your hearts, and wake up every day with a profound sense of purpose — and a bounce in your step,” Baines said.

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