WYE MILLS — At the third annual Pride of the Peake fundraising banquet Thursday, April 25, 2013, the Chesapeake College Alumni and Friends Association honored one of its founders, Dr. Harry Rhodes, and State Sen. Richard Colburn R-37 Mid-Shore, a 1982 alumnus, at the Caroline College Center on campus. The event raised $8,500 for the alumni association. Robby Sheehan, president of the association, said the funds would be used for scholarships for current and future students.
Sheehan recognized both Rhodes and Colburn for their contributions to the college, and Chuck Cook, Eastern Shore Coordinator for Gov. Martin O'Malley, passed on the governor's congratulations and announced O'Malley had declared the day a special day of tribute to both of them for their work and accomplishments.
Dr. Rhodes, 98, was superintendent of Queen Anne's County Schools in 1965 when he worked to help create Chesapeake College. In his acceptance speech he remembered roughing it during the pioneer first year when there was a corn field where the college now stands. "We had a piece of ground; we didn't have any buildings to hold classes," he said. Classes met in a local high school after classes were over for the day, starting at 5 or 6 p.m. and going until midnight, he recalled.
"It is unbelievable to see what it has become," he said. "I would suggest that this institution has probably done more for ... people in this community than any other organization on the Eastern Shore in the past 50 years." The college has provided many people with an education they never would have gotten otherwise, he said, and he recognized the many people who have been working in all parts of the college. "I take my hat off to these people and ask that you continue giving support to this college."
Colburn was a 1982 graduate of Chesapeake who soon after was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates, and later to the state senate.
Sheehan called him a "champion for the Eastern Shore."
"We are very appreciative for all that you've done in the community and beyond," he said.
"I will forever be indebted to this college for helping me to realize my goals," Colburn said. "Growing up the son of an Eastern Shore waterman and being a grocery clerk a career in politics sometimes seemed to be an impossible goal ... here at Chesapeake I rediscovered my passion for politics and that desire to help other people. The potential to pursue both interests went from a possibility to a reality."
President Barbara Viniar said the college would not be here without the work of people like Colburn and Rhodes. "I am immensely grateful and I can truly say that we will carry forward the work that you started," she said.
Sheehan said the Pride of the Peake banquet is the alumni association's main event each year. This year's event was almost sold out, with 122 tickets purchased. "We really just want to boost awareness about the college," he said. "We're really just about telling the story (of the college) and want to make sure that we pass on our success to the next generation."