Sunday, May 17, 2009

Krystle Belanger Gives 2009 Valedictorian Address

Chester College of New England celebrated its 41st Commencement on Saturday, May 16 with 33 graduates receiving the Bachelor of Arts degree. Krystle Belanger, a photography, media arts major, gave the following Valedictorian address.

As I stand before you all today, I can honestly say that four years ago I wouldn’t have pictured myself here – with the 2009 graduating class of Chester College of New England… in my high school. But it is an honor and a privilege to be given the opportunity to speak with you.

Our years together have flown by, and in some instances have felt like an eternity. I can clearly remember the first day of orientation, being greeted by Dr. Petrakis, and thinking to myself, “What did I get myself into?” A lot has changed since then. Our circles of friends may have transformed, we ourselves may be different people, but we have been able to watch each other succeed in a myriad of ways.

Our time together at Chester wasn’t easy. Many hours were spent critiquing each others' work, pulling apart every detail while asking all of the important questions: “How is this Art?” and “Why does this matter?” - We got on each others' nerves, we debated and argued, some of us even cried, but we laughed too. Our ideas transformed and grew with every conversation. After all, what is art without the process? We pushed each other in ways that forced us to better understand ourselves as artists and as people- making every step worth the reward.

Today is a big day. A very big day. But by no means is this the “The Road Less Traveled.” … I think that part comes next – in the future days, or even years, when we all have to decide if coming this far is good enough. I hope we each continue to put our skills to work, building our own paths in the real world – The place where there are no grades to rank us, and judgment passes only on our actions and determination. I sincerely hope you each pursue your talents, whichever they may be, because I know you are all capable of greatness if only you are willing to work for it.

Today we walked into this room as a group – a unit that has supported one another. Take comfort in the fact that we leave as superbly educated individuals. We have been guided by an unyielding faculty that has gently pushed us to discover our artistic voices – voices that I hope won’t easily be silenced.

But we have to face the facts: in about three months we’ll be replaced. The freshmen are coming, and although our presence may linger shortly, it’s time to move on – time to take what we have learned and to begin living our dreams out loud. So good luck, and Congratulations!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Submit to SO Good Volume III

The submission period for SO Good Volume III is now open!

Any work created by Chester College students this semester (Spring 2009) or next semester (Fall 2009) is eligible. Submit for yourself, or, if you are a faculty member, nominate your favorite student work as a Faculty Favorite.

Send all work--visual and written--as an attachment to

Have a great summer!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Art History Club Visits NYC Museums

On Saturday, May 9, ten Chester College students woke themselves up in order to pile into a van by eight, and arrive at the Brooklyn Museum by two. They are members of the college's Art History Club, which was created to allow students to attend galleries and museums normally out of their reach due to distance and/or cost. It is one of the only (if not the only) clubs of its kind.

Professor Nanette Thrush, the club's advisor, arranged for this most recent trip to New York City, which included stops at the Brooklyn Museum on Saturday and the Guggenheim on Sunday. At the Brooklyn Museum, students had the opportunity to view exhibits that featured works from Africa, Asia, Europe, Ancient Egypt, decorative arts, and the famous “Dinner Party” by Judy Chicago. Later, the club relocated to the 63rd Street YMCA, right across the street from the West side of Central Park, to stay for the night. Students chose to spend their evening exploring places like Times Square, Greenwich Village and Central Park, and shopping in stores such as FAO Schwartz and Macy's.

The Guggenheim, right off of Central Park's East side, is a contemporary art museum which features many more recent works than the Brooklyn Museum. Although not all of the galleries were open to the public on Sunday, club members were still able to see blueprints of Frank Lloyd Wright's work (who, by the way, is the museum's architect), paintings by artists such as Picasso and Manet, and other interesting works by newer artists.

Would you like to go to art museums for free? Join Art History Club by contacting Nanette Thrush or Rachel Lieberman.

--Rachel Lieberman

Friday, May 8, 2009

SO Good Volume II Available Now

Get your copy of SO Good Volume II through now by following this link or clicking the "buy now" button in the left column of this blog. Copies of SO Good Volume I also are available here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Professional Practices Course Prepares Writers for Life After College

Chester College is making great effort to expand the types of classes offered to students. This year the Department of Writing and Literature added a requirement, Professional Practices for Writers. The class, taught by Jenn Monroe, gives writers insight into the various areas they can venture into after graduation. This includes story submissions, grant writing, graduate school and potential jobs. The class also covers resumes and interviews along with the legal issues surrounding writers and their work and how to protect themselves. The class will now be offered every fall semester.

The fall semester was the first time the class had been offered. SO Good staffer Steph Libby interviewed Jenn Monroe to find out how the class came about, what it accomplished, and how it might change.

Steph Libby: What prompted the addition of Professional Practices?

Jenn Monroe: It was a natural progression in the growth of the department’s offerings. We knew our students were talented but we wanted to make sure that they were ready for life after Chester, no matter if they wanted to look for a job, continue writing, go to grad school or some combination of these.

SL: How do you think the course helped students?

JM: Well, in really tangible ways: you’ve been accepted into the MFA program at Goddard College and Beth Ann [Miller] has had work she sent out as part of the course earn an honorable mention from Glimmer Train and first place in a contest sponsored by Hollins University. But generally students have said that they were not aware of grant writing or how to go about finding freelance opportunities. I think most of them feel slightly less stressed about what comes next.

SL: Is there anything you’re going to do differently within the course the next time it’s offered? Anything you’re going to add?

JM: I’d like to do much more with the grant writing, to really see one of the proposals go all the way through to a completed project. I’d also like to do much more with securing freelancing opportunities as well. I’m hoping there’s more time for guest speakers and off-campus trips too.

SL: Do you think students actively thought about these practices (grant writing, graduate school, submissions) prior to taking the class?

JM: I think students actively panicked about what they were going to do after Chester prior to taking the class. While the class won’t solve all of the stress, at least it gives students some tools and some perspective.

SL: What do you think were the best and worst parts, the pros and cons of the class?

JM: It is difficult, in a class like this, to be sure that you are reaching everyone in terms of their goals. Some people are really certain that they do not want to go to grad school, or at least not in the next few years, so I think they felt going through the application process was a waste of time and they didn’t take it seriously. This class, perhaps more than others, really is what each individual student chooses to make it. I’m just putting the information out there.

SL: Why did you choose the books you chose? How do you think they helped the students?

JM: I like the MFA book (The Creative Writing MFA Handbook)because it is a great resource for programs; the law book (The Law in Plain English for Writers) is one that all writers should have, simply to protect themselves.

Student Work to Appear in Art and Literary Magazine

This photo manipulation, created by Chester College student Julia Maranto, was accepted to Spires Art and Literary magazine (Washington University's art and literary magazine) for their Spring 2009 issue.