In the fall of 2010 I found myself in a dilemma. I was a junior film major at Fitchburg State College studying the production techniques of cinema and on my way to a job in the film industry. This was the place I needed to be in order to fulfill my dream of becoming a filmmaker. Despite all this, I was severely depressed. It was something about the college itself, a combination of the decaying city, the intense competition of the program, and the focus on technical proficiency before artistry. I felt like I was being trained to be a drone in the industry and not a forward thinking filmmaker. After two and a half years this depression had reached its apex, I had to get out.
My only idea was to transfer to Emerson. Emerson is located in Boston right on the commons, it’s a beautiful area of the city. Besides NYU, Emerson has one of the best film programs on the east coast. However, I knew that the aspects I disliked like about Fitchburg would be multiplied ten fold. As a transfer student from New Hampshire I would be lost in a sea of pre-formed cliques at the hip college and within the city itself. One October night while laying in my bed, I remembered driving past Chester College and how friendly and inviting it looked nestled in the woods close to my home. I applied that night on a whim.
The next day I got a response asking for an interview. I went on tours. I met the professors and faculty. They seemed honestly interested in my work, my ideas, and what I had to say. All this attention had a profound impact on me, so much so that when I received my long awaited acceptance letter to Emerson it garnered a mere laugh from me. That was the first I had heard from them since I submitted my application. I had already made up my mind anyway; I was going to Chester College of New England.
I could not be happier with my decision. I can say with all honesty that I’m the happiest I’ve ever been while attending Chester College. My enjoyment of school is unparalleled to how I felt at Fitchburg taking classes in my preferred field of study. This positive atmosphere caused my grades to shoot up in all courses. I’ve looked forward to every class I’ve taken, from art history to graphic design, literature to photography. That last one, photography, I’ve enjoyed so much I decided to stay an extra year in order to complete a double concentration in both photo and video. Even though I’m able to graduate before the school closes, I’m deeply saddened by not havingthe chanceto return to Chester for one more year to study photography.
At the heart of all my enthusiasm for Chester College is the incredible professors. As an artist, I’m indebted to them not only as mentors, but as friends. I’ve had a variety of rich experiences outside the classroom thanks to them. Rachelle Beaudoin, Melissa Boyajian, and Elizabeth Buckley have always encouraged my exploration outside the boundaries of their courses. I began acting on stage, even in a regional competition, thanks to John Sefel and Marie Brown. I’ve traveled to NYC museums with Nanette Thrush, attended photo exhibits and film screenings (and the occasional concert) with Edward Stapel. I’ve studied abroad in Italy and Hawaii, won a national student photography contest, and matured as an artist under the guidance of Darrell Matsumoto. I’ve even been collaborating with professors outside my department recently making an internet video series titled In Place with Christopher Anderson and Jenn Monroe for their literature blog Extract(s). On top of all this I’ve had the chance to meet, talk, and have worked critiqued by high profile artists and writers like Nick Flynn, Gaye Chan, and Luther Price among others. This all has accumulated with recently finishing a short film for my senior project, a work that I’m incredibly proud of.
The opportunity to interact one on one with such passionate professors and students creates a sense of unity that is non-existent at larger schools. The closing of Chester College will not only be a closing of a school, but of a community.