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Groundbreaking Connecticut Commissioner of Education Helps University Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
Miguel A. Cardona, Ph.D., Connecticut's first Latino education commissioner, shared his inspirational story with students, engaging them in a discussion about the importance of education and inclusion.
October 14, 2019
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Carolyn Olortegui '20 is interested in education policy. She had the chance recently to learn about the subject she's passionate about from one of the top minds in the state on the topic. Miguel A. Cardona, Ph.D., Connecticut Commissioner of Education, visited campus as part of the University's celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
"It's great to see people of color in positions of power – especially in education," said Olortegui, president of the University's Latin American Student Association and a political science major. "It's important to have our voices heard, and to share that with the campus community."
Before becoming commissioner of the State Department of Education earlier this year, Dr. Cardona served as assistant superintendent for teaching and learning in Meriden, Conn. He also served in other administrative roles in the city, including as principal of Hanover Elementary School from 2003 to 2013. He was named Connecticut's principal of the year in 2012.
"Statistically, I'm not supposed to be here. It's important for me to speak to groups like this because I'm living proof that statistics don't matter."Miguel A. Cardona, Ph.D., Connecticut Commissioner of Education
In an address on the state of public education in Connecticut, Dr. Cardona discussed the importance of service, encouraging students to "be the example you wish to see.
"My goal is to look at education as a great equalizer in Connecticut," he continued. "Statistically, I'm not supposed to be here. It's important for me to speak to groups like this because I'm living proof that statistics don't matter."
While telling students his story, Dr. Cardona mentioned that he was the first in his family to go to college – an achievement that also came with many challenges. His message resonated with Briana Borrero '21, who is also a first-generation student.
"I am Puerto Rican, and my family came to the United States," said Borrero, a criminal justice major. "Education is very important to me, and to the many students who are also first-generation students."
The talk, sponsored by LASA and the University's Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion, was one of several events held as part of the University's celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month – which is celebrated from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 – to educate the University community and to celebrate Latin culture.
"Discussions like this are important because people of color need representation," said Arieliz Soto '21, a criminal justice major and vice president of LASA. "Hispanic History Month is a great opportunity to have these conversations."