Last evening, Provost Karim and I walked around the Campus Center and saw some students gleefully watching the Super Bowl, but the room was not packed and many pondered, "Did the Broncos deserve to play? Where are the Patriots?"
Some 120 guests attended the elegant "Living the Dream" gala last Friday organized by the Class of 2014, led by Senior Class President Josh Encarnacion and Endeavor Scholar Paula Cruz. The goal was to raise an endowment that will generate scholarships for future students. Students Georgina Nicolo, Marven-rhode Hyppolite, Chris Jordan, Michael Thomas, and Paula Cruz poignantly presented personal stories about their educational journey to UMass Dartmouth. They touched our hearts and reminded us once more that scholarships help increase access to higher education, and that education is our nation's economic democratizer and the key to the American Dream.
Chris Jordan, captain of our cross country and track and field teams, is graduating this year with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. His father, a mason who has laid the bricks in many UMass Dartmouth buildings, and his mother - a teacher's assistant at a preschool for children with special needs - proudly beamed in the audience as he told his story. Chris commented on the challenges,
"... our family has had to rely heavily on federal student loans and federal parent plus loans to cover the bulk of educational costs. These loans along with part-time jobs, summer jobs, and pinching every penny still barely covers the costs of our education. I have had to go semesters without required books, resorting to borrowing from caring classmates when they were not using them . . . I was fortunate enough to have the support of my father's caring boss, whose son also attends UMass Dartmouth, and the family of one of my roommates to lend me the money necessary to pay off that bill and continue the pursuit of my dreams."
Marven-rhode Hyppolite, Student Government President, recounted:
"I never did well in school when I was younger . . . I was a victim of constant bullying, my sister was in and out of the hospital, my mother and father were separated, and things were falling apart around me ... My time at UMass Dartmouth has been extraordinary. In a very short time I went from someone who had lost motivation and did not believe in himself to someone who believes in himself and has found a purpose in life. . . Without scholarships, some kid out there in a situation similar to the one I was in might never be able to pick themselves up and be able to enter an institution like UMass Dartmouth that has given me so much."
As pointed out by a number of studies at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, education is a driver of income inequality. Not only is income higher for people of greater educational achievement, but also unemployment is lower among those who are better educated. We pledge
to work much harder this year on fundraising to support student scholarships and deepen our commitment to increase educational attainment.
I thoroughly enjoyed joining President Gloria Larson of Bentley University and President Pam Eddinger of Bunker Hill Community College at last week's CASE Conference in Boston in a panel discussion titled "A View From the Top: Presidents on the Challenges and Opportunities in Higher Education" moderated by NPR's Tom Ashbrook. At the same conference, Assistant Chancellor John Hoey joined four other external affairs leaders in a panel titled "Boston Strong: Communicating During a Week of Terror."
Kudos to Bob Miklos and his designLab Architects team for winning a Boston Society of Architects Honors Award for Excellence for the renovation of the Claire T. Carney Library! Wondrously, this is the third award they have received for this striking renovation project on our campus.
Have a good week, everyone!