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Governor's GEAR UP Press Conference

"Good afternoon. Welcome to beautiful Naugatuck Valley Community College. There is a Hawaiian folk song, turned into poetry in the 19th century that points us to a world of possibilities:

Above, above
All birds in air
Below, below
All forest trees
Seaward, seaward
All ocean fish
Sing out and say
Again, the refrain
Behold this lovely world.

It is a lovely world when so many come together to have aspirations which are as high as the heavens and as wide as the seas. The joy of this afternoon is made even more beautiful and meaningful by the presence of so many who reach for the stars and think broadly and in generous ways. 

Governor Dannel Malloy, your understanding of education as part of our generation’s civil rights agenda is to be commended. Dr. Robert Kennedy, president of Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education; Honorable Neil O'Leary, mayor of The City of Waterbury and Chair of our Regional Advisory Council; Honorable Marcia LeClerc, mayor of East Hartford; elected leaders Senator Hartley, Representative Berger, Representative Butler, Representative Rebimbas; my dear sister presidents Dr. Mary Papazian, Southern Connecticut State University, and Dr. Gena Glickman, Manchester Community College; our Waterbury partner Dr. Kathleen Ouellette, superintendent of the Waterbury Public School System; Cathy Awwad, president of the Northwestern Regional Workforce Investment Board, my partner in this and so many endeavors; members of the Board of Regents, community members, colleagues at NVCC and dear students, representing the SGA, the President’s Circle, and the Principal to President Scholars; welcome to this meaningful event.

Then- Commissioner Mike Meotti and your associate directors,  Mahlia Sieve and Braden Hosch, led this wonderful effort a year ago for the state of Connecticut. Gracias. Grazie. Obrigada. Merci Beaucoup, thank you, on behalf of so many children in the city of Waterbury and throughout Connecticut. I also take these few minutes allotted to me to acknowledge the leadership of colleagues on campus, Janis Petrillo, director of the Bridge to College program, Dr. Estela Lopez, associate dean of Academic Affairs and Provost and Senior Dean of Administration James Troup. All have worked diligently and collaboratively with so many partners to make it happen. Mr. Paul Goudone, city of Waterbury Board of Education, worked out budget details with Jim Troup. Cathy Awwad and her Board provided so much support in terms of workforce opportunities. Thank you, all.

As a young immigrant, I struggled my first year, in the ninth grade, to master Algebra, and to master the English language, which I did by reading a number of novels by Charles Dickens. Dickens spoke to me then, as he does now, because of his belief in the fundamental ability for all of us to overcome economic challenges, to grow up strong and become adults who do the right thing and the kind thing.  As a young immigrant, “Great Expectations” shaped my imagination. It also taught me to read a book from front to back: a full, complete book. Algebra challenged me but also prepared me to pursue what was called then an academic high school diploma in NYC.

GEAR UP Waterbury will bring together the NVCC Bridge to College program as a partner with three middle schools. We will work hand in hand with our colleagues to bring about our own “great expectations” and results for our students, precisely by adhering to that old principle that helped shape many immigrants like me: a curriculum that challenged me, taught me to aim high and prepared me for my own life’s transformation through the power of public education.

It is a beautiful world! I look forward to this part of my own journey and to seeing so many young people reach out to the stars and begin to believe that this beautiful world can be theirs. Mil gracias y bendiciones.

Gear Up, Press Conference
Naugatuck Valley Community College
Technology Hall Atrium
June 8, 2012

Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D.
President, Naugatuck Valley Community College

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