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Life Is A Stage
Sydney Collson came to Mary Washington for the scenery, and she left in 1960 with the background to perform multiple roles throughout her life and 30-year teaching career. "Looking back, I think we had the best of the best," she says. "We loved the beautiful campus; we had fun with traditions like wearing freshman beanies and yelling the loudest on Devil/Goat Day; and we benefited from the knowledge of a kaleidoscope of teachers and professors."
Sydney pursued a double major in English and dramatic arts, and she credits her advisor, Dr. Albert Klein, for directing her career path. "I loved the theater, and I was happy working with props or designing scenery. When I decided to become a teacher, I realized those classes and that experience was the best preparation I could have had. Teachers are on stage all day long, and each day of teaching is like a mini-theatrical production."
After graduation, Sydney married John H. Chichester, former Senator and President pro tempore of the Virginia senate. She taught in the Spotsylvania system for four years and at Gayle Middle School in Stafford County for 26 years. Although she and John are no longer married, she says their daughter, Holly, is one of her greatest productions. Sydney also deserves acclaim for the hundreds of students she has inspired throughout her teaching career and through her support of various scholarships.
While serving on the giving committee for a recent class reunion, Sydney took the opportunity to update her will to benefit various charitable organizations, and she notified the University of her bequest to enhance the existing Honorable R.H.L. & Belle Wallace Chichester Scholarship. "I decided it was time to finally fulfill all those good intentions," she says. "I can enhance my class gift during our reunion campaign, honor my daughter's great-grandparents, and give future students the opportunity to prepare for their roles in life."