Inspiring Speaker Brings Message of Unity to Vermont Academy Community

On Tuesday, March 26, the multi-hyphenate Inspirational Speaker, Author, Entrepreneur, and Former Pro Athlete Chris Singleton spoke to the Vermont Academy community in the Nita Choukas Theater in Horowitz Performing Arts Hall.
Following the tragic loss of his mother in the 2015 Mother Emanuel AME Church mass shooting in Charleston, SC, Chris became a nationally-renowned speaker, sharing his story, his heart, and messages of love conquering hate. Chris is a former minor league baseball player drafted by the Chicago Cubs, and his words have reached clients such as Boeing, The Houston Texans, Microsoft, Biogen, Volvo, and The Washington Wizards. His story inspires audiences nationwide with its themes of resilience and wisdom.

In sharing his story at VA, he referenced a quote that helped guide him through his life with the hardships he had experienced “There was one that changed my perspective, and this is the way I live my life today. Pastor Charles R. Swindoll said that everybody's life is built on two things, whether we want it to be or not. These two things are action and reaction. He said our lives are 10% action, and 90% reaction,” said Chris. “We do not choose who our parents are, we don’t choose where we are born, we don’t choose how much money we do or don’t have growing up, we don’t choose if we are 6’ 7” or 4’ 7”, but all of those things in our lives are our 10%. 90% is how we respond to the things we don’t choose.”

Chris explored topics such as unity and perspective, and how learning someone else’s perspective can help foster compassion. He shared both humorous and powerful anecdotes, such as having people in his life with different points of view than him, and how their importance to him is unchanging based on their differences. 

Chris left the audience with another quote - one from a civil rights activist and fellow baseball player Jackie Robinson, that he lives by: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” 

Gathering from the standing ovation Chris received, there was no doubt that he had made an impact on the lives of the students, faculty, and staff in the audience. Afterward, advisories spent time reflecting time on Chris’s words. The respective groups explored the factors in life we can control and those we cannot, and brainstormed topics that can have two perspectives to them. Oftentimes things that are usually perceived as negative have an entirely different side to them- and can be seen in a positive light.

Special thanks go to Todd and Robin Copeland P '20 for making this possible, and to Chris for sharing his message with our community.
Vermont Academy is a coed college preparatory boarding and day school in southern Vermont, serving grades 9-12 plus a postgraduate year.