The Final Bow

By Beacon Staff

A few weeks ago, at Flathead Valley Community College’s International 10 Minute Play Festival, Hannah Brinton had two things on her mind during her final performance playing a proper Victorian-era woman looking for love.

One: Don’t slip back into the deep southern accent of the ditsy character she played a few hours earlier during the festival.

Two: Don’t cry.

“It was tough to do that last bow because all I wanted to do was run back into the Green Room and cry,” Brinton said.

For three years, Brinton, 21, has been a staple of FVCC’s theater program and has taken part in, either on stage or back stage, no less than 14 plays. Last week she graduated with an associate’s degree in business and arts and this fall will enter the University of Montana as a junior.

Brinton graduated from Columbia Falls High School in 2011 and enrolled at FVCC that fall. She was accepted into its scholars program, which places students in honors classes and covers their tuition. Upon arriving at FVCC, Brinton initially was unsure of her career path, but was drawn back to her true love: theater, which she has done since the second grade.

“My parents knew if I wasn’t at home then I was in the theater room,” she said.

Because of the scholars program, Brinton traveled to Arizona in 2013 to present a medical ethics project from one of her honors courses at a national conference. Even though the topic appeared a world away from business and theater, Brinton attacked the class like she does everything, with vigor and enthusiasm.

“I wanted to work as hard as I could for the people who paid for me to come here,” she said.

Leaving FVCC is bittersweet, Brinton said, adding that she believes the teachers there care about the students: “They could teach anywhere,” she said. “But they’re here because they care.”

In the fall, Brinton will study marketing and theater and she hopes to graduate in 2016. While she would miss FVCC, she is excited for the future. Talking to Brinton, it’s clear that she is prepared for it. In fact, the only thing she doesn’t know how to do is say thank you.

“How do you thank everyone who has helped me? Words are not enough,” she said. “So to thank them I’m going to go on and continue my education.”

The 46th class in the history of Flathead Valley Community College celebrated its graduation last week. In an exciting and emotional commencement ceremony, a total of 422 graduates took the stage at the Flathead County Fairgrounds to accept their diplomas and toss their caps into the air. There were 365 associate degrees and 66 certificates awarded to those who completed the summer and fall of 2013 and spring 2014 semesters.

The latest class of local graduates was as diversified as it was determined. It featured nurses and entrepreneurs, welders and foresters — all rooted in their motivation to pursue higher education and expand their abilities two years ago in the wake of the recession.

Here are four graduates emerging from FVCC with exemplary stories to share.

Jonathan McKeffick: Sparking a Bright Future

Becca Wheeler: Forging a New Career Path

Hannah Brinton: The Final Bow

Ryan Pitts: From the Firehouse to the Classroom

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.