Archive for Thursday, May 24, 2007

Baker bagpipes finally sound 20 years later

May 24, 2007

Sunday's bagpipes capped off 20 years of waiting for Rachelle Vigna.

In 1988, Vigna began her college education at Baker University. Her goal then was to parade across the campus behind the bagpipes. That goal was realized Sunday.

"One of my friends said it best when she said, 'they are playing for you,'" Vigna said. "That was an important moment in my life."

Shortly before 4:30 p.m., Vigna marched across Baker's campus with hundreds of other graduates. Those few minutes are a moment she will never forget.

"It was pretty cool," Vigna said. "It was surreal. It was a motivating dream to walk behind the bagpipes. It was a moment to remember."

Vigna's college career came to an end Sunday afternoon. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in business management during Baker's second commencement ceremony.

"It was emotional," Vigna said. "They pronounced my first and last names correct. That made me happy. Then Dr. (Patricia) Long told me she was proud of me and gave me a hug as I crossed the stage. That moment is right up there with my wedding."

Vigna began taking classes at Baker after high school at Perry-Lecompton. She then transferred to Kansas State University. The larger school didn't appeal to her, so she dropped out of school.

Then she got married and started a family in the years in between. Vigna and her family moved from Lawrence to Baldwin a little more than three years ago.

"I kind of switched priorities around," Vigna said. "About three-and-a-half years ago, we moved back to Baldwin. I wanted to come back here and live, but I didn't necessarily want to go back to Baker."

Her husband, Dennis, finished his Master's Degree and convinced her it was time to finish her degree. She began taking classes at the School of Professional and Graduate Studies in Overland Park.

For the last couple of years, Vigna has been working at Baker in the mail and copy center. She has received a couple of promotions and now holds the title of the campus visit and special projects coordinator.

"Now I am graduated, living in Baldwin and working for the university I love," Vigna said. "Life is pretty good."

The SPGS and School of Education graduates walked across the stage during Baker's second ceremony. In the early commencement, 174 undergraduates received degrees.

Three Baldwin High School graduates earned their Bachelors' Sunday. They were Hans Broers, Kyrstan Hubbel and Jennifer Wingert. All three are 2002 BHS graduates.

"It's kind of a weight off my shoulders," Broers said. "It's nice to know I passed all of my classes. It's a little too formal for me, but it's nice to have my family and friends here."

Broers will be attending graduate school at the University of Kansas to pursue a degree in higher education administration.

"I'm going to be going to grad school, so I don't have to go into the real world yet," Broers said. "I'll miss it here, but I'm ready to move on."

Lawrence native DJ Watkins attended the University of Kansas for one year, before transferring to Baker to play basketball. He enjoyed all four years in Baldwin City.

"It feels like the end of a long four years here at Baker," Watkins said. "It feels really good. I feel like the liberal arts education here gave me the ability to pursue a variety of interests. I was lucky to be a part of the tradition and quality of education down here."

Sunday's festivities marked the first spring commencements for Baker President Long.

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