I don’t even know where to begin.
I found Chester my freshman year of High School. I knew what I wanted to study, even then. One of my friends pointed it out to me and I looked into it quickly, but walked away. I didn’t want to go to such a small school, especially one that seems so competitive.
I brushed it off, but my junior year, my parents had me start really looking into schools and Chester came up again. It soon became one of my top three schools. My dad brought me to visit Chester, as well as the University of Maine, Farmington, because my third option was in Ohio and not easily accessible.
My dad and I got in the car and drove from the south eastern coast of Connecticut and when we got here, I took one look at the school and knew that this was where I wanted to be. My third choice school became my first choice with one glance.
I visited UMF the next day, looked at my dad, and he saw from the look on my face that I didn’t belong anywhere else but Chester.
I was terrified to apply at first, because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be accepted anywhere due to my grades in high school. I had low grades and I barely passed each year. My parents didn’t believe in me, that I would never be able to make it into any school and would be forced to go to community college. But when I finally applied, I couldn’t breathe.
I got the letter just a few days after my birthday. I took it into my room to read it alone, and when I read the first line, I broke. I was crying because I was able to go to the school of my dreams.
When I got on campus at the end of August, I knew I was home. I may only be at the end of my freshman year, but I don’t want to go anywhere else. This is the only place I have found a real un-biological family that I would do anything for.
I haven’t really said anything during this time because I haven’t really known where I stand. Someone might hear that and jump to the conclusion that I hate Chester, that I’m not supportive, or that I just plain don’t care. That’s not true though, I love Chester College. Not for it’s dilapidated buildings or the petty attitudes that arise because of such artists living in such close proximity, those things we will forget about five years from now.
I love Chester because I feel like I matter here. It’s size comes with problems but it also gives us an advantage that other schools don’t have. Our school and teachers care about us. We aren’t a faceless student body who represent a number among thousands, we are each important and remembered. I know every face on campus and can tell you what I like and don’t like about their art or writing, because I’ve seen and read it for myself. And they can do the same for me and we all make each other better this way. But I haven’t said any of this before because I’m realistic to a fault. I also know that if Chester closes down I will keep writing and keep making art. That’s not something that money or a school can give and take from you. It’s in me, it’s in all of us. Chester has made me better at writing than anyone else could have but it’s not the end point, it’s just the beginning.
So I guess what I really want is for other students to have their beginnings here too. I don’t have money or time to give like others do but I’ll always have my words and that’s because of Chester. I’ll always have the stories it has given me.
The first question I’m always asked is how did I find out about such a small school tucked away in such a small area in New Hampshire when I live two and half hours away in Connecticut? It sounds really simple, but it’s much more. I received a flyer in the mail about the school at the beginning of my senior year of high school. At this point, I was starting to get discouraged that I couldn’t find a school that was right for me as well as one that provided the major I desired. This one flyer came in the mail and I looked at it just like each one previous but this one caught me right away and I actually sat down, read it all the way through and more than once at that. I remember begging my mom to take me to the open house in October and we both were so happy that I was really excited about a school even before I got there.
When we arrived, we already liked what we saw. The small size and the homey feel each building had. The presentation before any kind of tours occurred was so motivating and made me feel like I could belong here and be an active contributing student, not just a person roll called by a number. The faculty and staff we met that day were all so kind. I knew I needed to be here.
Applying was such a wonderful and rewarding process. I had help from a really great admission counselor, Chris Sumner, who answered every single question I could have possibly had and he made sure I was on the right track in the whole process. His guidance throughout the whole thing just reinforced my motivation to become a part of this school.
Now that I am a student here, a sophomore finishing up my 4th semester at the college, I cannot be more happy with the choice I made to attend here. I’ve already learned so much in not just my major, but I have learned a lot about myself and that would have never been possible if I didn’t go here and meet the people I have met in the past two years.
This school means too much to me to see it just close its doors. It’s provided so much for me in only two years and for several other people who have attended here and work here as well. I’ll stand by it always.
I first heard about Chester my junior year of high school. Aside from the fact that it was a liberal arts school, I didn’t know much else. A friend that currently attends Chester College, Sam Verba, told me about Chester when she received her acceptance letter.
From there I began my search online. Then throughout my senior year, Sam told me about Chester and how much she loved the school. She was partly or the majority of the reason I decided to attend Chester.
At first I was highly skeptical.Then as the year progressed, I found myself slowing falling in love with the 144-student college. For once I had felt like I was accepted for who I was and the things that I was interested in.
I became a member of SGA as the Freshman Class Representative because not only did I want to be a voice of the student body, but because I wanted to play a part in the advancement of the college as a whole. Now it seems as though I need to take that role a step further. As a member of the Chester Community, it is my responsibility to fight for something that I hold dear to my heart and stand up from what is true.
Chester College of New England is the only place where I’ve felt accepted in a school environment. I love the school, the staff, and the students. We are all unique and we fit together. We’re a bunch of misfits, but that works for us. We compliment each other equally. And while we may not see eye to eye with everyone on campus (I know that I do not), we are all willing to push that aside and stand up for our school. But the thing is, Chester College is more than just an institution or community. Chester College is a home and a family; just like family, we all have disagreements, but when it comes down to the knitty gritty we will stand shoulder to shoulder and fight for what we love together, as one.
Chester is home. There is no other way to describe it for me. I am a senior creative writing major and Chester College is my salvation.
I grew up in a suburb of Boston. It was loud and messy. Chaos. That isn’t who I am. I couldn’t show my potential in a place like that, nor could I really do anything creative. Chester to me is creativity. It’s the opportunity to get away from my past and live for writing. I breathe for this school.
The teachers here are the most amazing people I have ever met. They inspire and guide, they take time out of their lives to help anyone who needs it. I don’t know how these people do it, but each and every one of them are role models. I aspire to be just like them.
I wrote a book. I never thought I could complete a project, and yet through Chester I was able to focus and form an idea that I was willing to see completed. There were times that I wanted to burn everything I owned, but the whole community of Chester made me push through. I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be a writer if it weren’t for Chester. This school won’t die. I won’t let it.
I came to Chester a little over a year ago, my admissions process having taken place a mere week before classes began while I sat in a desert in kuwait awaiting the flights that would carry myself and my fellows back to the United States. It was a surreal process, writing a story in a little out of the way corner to send to someone back home whom I’d never met, but when I finally returned I was in, and found myself involved in a very small but effective writing curriculum with some extremely talented faculty.
It wasn’t long before that where I was stagnating in a desert, driving all across Iraq and wondering why I was here, doing something no one could possibly enjoy while my friends were at home enjoying their lives. I knew I wanted to be a writer at that point in my life, but I didn’t know how to get there because I certainly didn’t have the inspiration at the time. Chester helped with that. It provided a dramatically different environment that fostered my creativity and encouraged me to write things I wouldn’t have otherwise written.
The faculty have been amazing providing direction and time to workshop my stories, and I have felt a substantial improvement and growth in my stories and prose. There’s little pressure in the classes due to the size, and the personal attention is second to none. There simply isn’t another college around NH like this one, and I will continue to come here for as long as I can.
I am only a couple of days/ weeks away from graduating Chester College of New England with a degree in Interdisciplinary Arts with a focus in professional writing and photography, aka photojournalism.
I am from Cheshire, CT. I graduated from Cheshire High School in 2008 as one of 416. When I was looking at schools I was sure I was going to go to a school where that stayed true. I had no intention or desire of going to a school where the entire student body was half the size of my senior class.
I first started looking at schools at the beginning of my senior year. I know, a little later than most but college was scary so I procrastinated. My parents gave me a four-hour radius for schools under the impression that if I went out of that radius I would have to find my own transportation. I first heard of Chester via a postcard that was mixed in with the millions of other schools postcards that came soon after I took my SATs. I was drawn to the postcard because of the color and the fact that the photograph was taken by an actual student. It was the most unique out of the pile of schools so I decided to send a return card asking for more information. When it came to open house I actually did not want to go. I remember fighting with my parents pleading them to just let me sleep. Since it is a 3- 3.5-hour drive I had to wake up a lot earlier on a Saturday than desired. Eventually they bribed me out of bed with caffeine and we made our trip up north. The entire time I was complaining because I hate snow and did not think any school located in the snow belt would be a good choice for me but the second I got here I felt at home. I have always been drawn to older homes and Chester had and still has that feel. I knew that I wanted to focus on journalism, photography, or some combination of the two. I went into my college search knowing that these fields are A.) dying and B.) super competitive. So I looked into schools where I wasn’t just learning from a book that was written when newspapers were the best thing since sliced bread. After a few minutes of talking to the professors/ Department Heads I knew I wouldn’t be doing that. I was instantly sold.
Each and everyone of the professors on this campus are still practicing in their field. The knowledge that they teach in their classrooms are not just from books but from their own experiences. This is absolutely amazing. There are very few schools where this is true. This year alone I have learned how to work with models, hang in a gallery, have things presentable in a gallery, how to sign a contract for published work, and numerous other things.
I now know what to expect when I go looking for a job in the real world in a couple weeks because no one hear is sugarcoating the amount of hard work and self-selling that goes into being a professional artist, writer or thinker.
Chester College is like every college there are the ups and downs but overall I would say my good experiences here outweigh the bad ones I have had. I admit there are things that I do not like here but in all honesty I would find something to complain about no matter where I went.
I have learned a lot of life lessons that I do not think I would have learned on my own. I have been forced to apply to scholarships, internships and send my work to places due to my professors’ influences. I do not think I would be published in as many things as I am currently if it wasn’t for their push and guidance. I know for a fact that I would have never applied to be the school’s photography intern if it wasn’t for Darrell telling me he thought I would be a good candidate. Chester College has given me the confidence and the reality check that each and every person needs.
Please save Chester College from extinction.
Heather Doherty, Class of 2012
Artist, Writer, [but especially a] Thinker: A Reflection on the Transformation from a Floating-by Student to a Critique Artist
The best thing I have gained from attending Chester College of NE is a taste for (even, a love of) critique. Critics are known to plenty of famous artists as the foul brood of a caste lower than that of the lawyer. Even so, informed, constructive critique is one of the most exquisite gifts you can give an artist.
When I arrived here as a meek little freshman, I had no intention of ever participating in critique. Sure, I had often been the only one brave enough to read my work aloud in my high school classes, but I had reasons to be so confident then. I was lucky enough to attend two summers of the Vermont Young Writer’s Conference, held at Champlain College, and the New England Young Writer’s Conference held on the Breadloaf Campus of Middlebury College. These experiences informed me that I was a good enough writer to stand apart from my classmates in the few instances my public school allowed us to write creatively. I pursued it as a hobby, to please myself, to attend these conferences, and to amuse an English teacher who encouraged me.
I came to Chester for the usual reasons (by usual, I mean that a large percentage of Chester students will cite these same reasons): the staff who visited my high school remembered my name when I later toured campus, I found the campus to be beautiful, and I wanted to get out of Vermont.
The first two years I spent at Chester I kind of floated by. I created the relationships with my teachers that have survived and gotten stronger year by year, and a few creative epiphanies shook me. I created some great language-based stories. But academically, I was just floating by. I learned the very least one had to say in workshops in order to pass the classes, and that was all I contributed.
By the beginning of my junior year, my brain had exploded or melted or both. I had ended one relationship and started another. I had worked my first very adult job for a summer. I moved in with two of the most supportive people I have ever met, and we had a happy, hyper little home. Those life changes combined with a breakthrough in my academic life to turn me into the proud Thinker I’ve become. This breakthrough could only have happened at Chester, and for that I owe this place my gratitude forever.
I was in Monica O’Brien’s Young Adult Literature course when my breakthrough happened. It was 11 a.m. (which is early for a floating-by college student), and we were discussing a book I did not enjoy on principle (high school stories bother me, and they especially bothered me back then, when my own experience was so fresh in my mind). But there was something about the writing that was drawing me in, helping me to devour pages quickly enough that I actually finished all my reading assignments on time. I was taking the course with at least four upperclassmen, two of whom I had a great amount of respect for. I had spent the first two months of the course cowering and not wanting to join in discussion with these literary giants, fearing that my floating-by responses would be useless and knocked aside so the big kids could talk.
I can’t remember what it was that made me speak through the chilly adrenaline that flooded my ribcage every time I thought about joining discussion, but I did it. I still get a shadow of that chill before I speak, but now I enjoy sharing my perspectives. I discuss literature and workshop pieces with poise and intellect that I have always possessed, but had never shared openly. I’ve become what I like to call a Critique Artist. (Warning, self-flattery is about to ensue.) I’ve made an art out of the constructive response, the informed expression of subjectivity. I have taste and opinions, passion and hatred, and above all, I have my own artistic experience to separate myself from the odious critic.
The bridge from intellectual discussions of literature to the ability to critique any work of art in an informed manner was built during my foray into graphic design. With the help of Jay Bordage, I became (I believe) the first full Creative Writing major to take Design History and Theory. I moved on from there to Graphic Design I, and am currently enrolled in Typography I.
Let me explain, for those unfamiliar with Chester: Each student is required to take a certain number of credits outside of their major. In addition to academic/liberal art requirements, we need a certain number of credits in one (or more!) of the other artistic disciplines. I chose to explore Graphic Design, and have been as thoroughly welcomed as if I were a design major myself. Jay answered all my dumb questions, and I had the academic strength to pass the course with flying colors (though the poster I designed was shockingly awful: I understand now what I had no reason to know then). Graphic Design I was not a breeze, but it taught me to marshal my creativity and love of colors into a distinct style. Typography has taken that to a new level. It’s also greatly helped to have fellow writers in these hands-on graphic design courses.
My point is that through my exploration of Graphic Design, and more specifically, Typography, I now feel that there is very little I cannot critique from a constructive point of view. I may run into subjects where I have no practical experience, but applying my critique skills to something other than writing made me realize that hands-on experience isn’t always necessary to provide good feedback. Every work of art can be tweaked and revised, and anyone with a decent ability to express their subjective and intellectual knowledge can suggest those revisions, no matter what background they have.
This understanding is the foundation for a greater philosophy which I am still attempting to fully adopt. If I am capable of being a Thinker in the sense that no matter the subject, I am educated and poised enough to respond intellectually, then I can do anything I want to. With sufficient application of time and practice, I could take any job or develop any skill I chose. This is probably the spirit of liberal education. It has taken me four years to come to this realization, and every piece that thudded into place in my personality along the way happened because of a person or intellectual pursuit connected with this college. This is probably why my professors are so passionate about saving this place, and about giving us every opportunity to mix genres that they possibly can. Everything is related, and everything can be assessed and attempted by anyone, so long as they are capable of the proper level of intellectual expression.
The people who make up Chester College of NE, past and present, were instrumental in this understanding of myself and the world. Their combined efforts allowed me to indulge my curiosity and build the person I will be when I graduate on May 12. My professors and my family have high hopes for what I will create in my lifetime, and I am confident I will not disappoint them. (Even if I do fail to reach some of those expectations, there’s always the hope that my work will be appreciated after my lifetime. Artists can be the most ardent optimists.)
As a realist, I don’t know what will happen to Chester College of NE. There are a lot of people around here who are angry and passionate and full of love for this place, and I hope their efforts succeed. If Chester closes, it will have been a glorious chapter in the world of liberal arts education. If it goes on, this opportunity will remain open for those in need of an artistic and/or intellectual awakening (and especially for those who don’t know they need it).
I am a 34 year old mother of four who resides in neighboring Raymond, NH. I work part time as a nursing supervisor in Exeter and have been in healthcare for 16 years. I have reached max burn out and on a leap of faith, enrolled into Chester’s interdisciplinary program for Photography and Creative Writing. I wanted nothing more than to chase the passions that have been inside of me for a long time- itching and scratching to be utilized.
Being maybe the eldest student age wise, I feel that alot of life experience has prepared me to deal with whatever may come. I have had to find a new home for one of my dogs just last week to save on money and time in order to continue plugging along with school to reach my dream. I want to teach my children that sometimes, to arrive at your goal, painful sacrifices must be made. My family has supported me through this and for that, I will work even harder to keep on the path to my dream.
Some of you may not know me- I am freshmen who lives off campus and utilizes a trapper keeper versus a laptop in class- lol. Those of you who do know me, please know that I will stop at nothing to continue my schooling AT CHESTER. I have given up so much that is important to me in order to make this work. Therefore, I will not give up until we get the news we need to hear! For all of us, for the dedicated and wonderful faculty as well as for those who have stuck by us to watch us grow and become artists. I don’t give up easily and I don’t plan to now!
Writing has always been and will always be the way I breathe. I still remember my very first poem when I was nine years old. I was going through a really tough time and I was the silent kid that didn’t know how to deal with her feelings so writing found me. I have yet to stop writing and have since learned the power of writing.
I lost this drive and purpose when I graduated high school and lived each day just like the last and just like the next. Living paycheck to paycheck and just barely got by. I was bored of life and lost writing all together. I knew there was something I had to change and I realized that I had to educate myself if I wanted any type of future. I browsed the internet and came across Chester College of New England. I spoke with Sarah Vogell (administration) and told her that I am a 24 year old woman looking to risk everything I have including my home to continue my education. She walked me through everything and really put me at ease. I know that it was no easy task because I didn’t have my mother to ask for money or to have a home, but Chester took on the challenge. Chester was a small college that had an amazing writing program and that I would soon be able to breathe again through my writing and the most important part was there were others just like me!
Chester College has become my home and I place where I can breathe. They have offered me tons of support and love. I have met amazing people here including a beautiful woman that without this place I would have never met. Chester is my family and now people are trying to break up my family and take me away from my home. I refuse to become farm animals and herd through life. If I lose my home I will be forced to go to a bigger school where once again I will just be another number and I will once again be homeless. I will do whatever I can to keep my home and family together, I wish that you help me in this journey. Join my family, become part of Chester College. –Jess Seraiva