This Little Light of Mine

A recollection of a unique experience and a thank you to the beneficiaries of Regis College.

October 21, 2016

Last night, I had the distinct privilege of performing in front of the most prestigious personalities in the whole Bay State area. My name is Blessing Ajaero, I am a senior Communications major at Regis College, and on the evening of October 20, 2016, I opened the Regis College Let It Shine! Gala.

Though I am no stranger to performing, yesterday’s soirée was an experience entirely new to me. Such philanthropists as Jim Rice, former Red Sox left fielder; John Fish, chairperson and CEO of Suffolk Construction Company; Anne Finucan, vide chairperson of Bank of America; Cardinal Seán O’Malley, archbishop of the archdiocese of Boston; Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker; Martin Walsh, mayor of Boston; John Kaneb, chairperson and CEO of Hood Corporation, and his wife, Virginia Kaneb; and more beyond my wildest imaginings. I spent the entire night shaking, completely in awe: it was the most extravagant fundraiser I have ever been to. Even now, I barely remember even touching my (lovely, delicious, gorgeously-plated) dinner. This morning, I woke up with something akin to a hangover — not from the single glass of red wine I nursed throughout the night, but from the sheer grandeur of the events that had occurred.

I shook hands and rubbed elbows with the best Boston has to offer, and all these local celebrities were there to be benefactors to my school, to me, my friends, my classmates, my peers. Moreover, they were actually interested in talking to me! Some of my fellow peers had been invited to participate in the evening, and these alums, chairpersons, executive officers, directors, and other personalities spent their night chattering not just to one another, but also to us. Having such benevolent attention focused on me from such generous, inspiring adults was something I’ll never forget. The kindness, the respect, the genuine enthusiasm… I know Regis will benefit greatly from their charity.

As a Waltham native, I commute to Regis because of the proximity. Despite this, I have made the effort to be part of some extracurriculars on campus, like the Glee Singers and the Chamber Singers. Every semester ends in a grand, exhilarating concert. I’ve been doing musical theatre since elementary school, and I cantor at Mass on Sundays. All my life, I have been singing, and yet, last night was on an entirely different level.

When it was time for me to open the show, I don’t think my mouth has ever been drier. My voice was quavering, my stomach was fluttering, and my knees were knocking. I wove my way through the tables, remotely lighting candles as I went. Somehow, I made my way to the stage with only a minimal amount of stumbling, ever grateful that I had decided against heels. If not for the incredible skill and encouragement of my accompanist, Paul Huberdeau, I don’t know if I could’ve made it to the platform. It seemed a frog had lodged itself into my throat as I gave a little speech to open the show, sure my cracking voice would give me away. In spite of everything, I was humbled by the response. The applause of the crowd is still echoing in my head.

A flurry of fundraising and conversation soon gave way to the presentation of Mrs. Virginia Kaneb’s Shining Example Award, created by the renowned Nancy Schön, of Make Way for Ducklings fame. I had the honor of dedicating another song directly to her, as well of being the recipient of her warm embrace and kind words immediately after. So many well-wishes and whispers of congratulations followed her as she went, and I was once again struck with awe and respect for such a compassionate benefactor.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish to thank everyone in attendance of Regis College’s Let It Shine! Gala: all of the named and anonymous donators, Liz Page of Liz Page Associates, and Regis College itself, for providing me with such an opportunity. There are big things in motion now for Regis, and as I prepare to graduate, I know that I can look back at my alma mater with pride.