U.S. Secretary of Education visited Central Connecticut State University Friday, accepts award

Published on Friday, 3 December 2021 18:45
Written by Jeniece Roman


NEW BRITAIN -- The U.S. Secretary of Education visited Central Connecticut State University Friday to meet with students and accept an award from the alumni association.

U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona, ’97, visited the CCSU campus Friday where he was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Service Award. Prior to the awards ceremony, Cardona met with students from the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) for a group discussion about their time at the university and to answer questions. Cardona, is an CCSU alum and was a member of LASO during his time at the university.

CCSU President Zulma R. Toro and CCSU students met with Cardona at Barnard Hall and discussed topics ranging from the state of education in the United States, the Build Back Better Framework, the importance of latino representation, and their love of Caribbean food and music. Cardona recalled a trip that he took with the student organization to Washington, DC. He said he has a photo of himself as a CCSU student standing in front of the United States capitol building.

“Little did I know, I’d be working there some twenty five years later,” Cardona said.

CCSU Students shared what areas they are studying and expressed how the student organization has allowed them to feel comfortable in their latin identity and community. Cardona spoke about the importance of establishing one's identity, especially when it comes to teaching. He told students Friday that when he first arrived at CCSU he felt like a fish out of water, but the organization helped him and became like a second family.

“I learned a lot about myself and I became more confident in who I was. Whatever made me a little bit different, I learned to celebrate that and because of that I was able to find success in my career,” Cardona said.

LASO President Haley Serrano is a sophomore at the university, studying to teach elementary education. After the discussion with students, Serrano told the Herald that she was excited to have the opportunity to directly speak with the education secretary. She said the discussion allowed for students to openly discuss plans for the future with someone who can have a significant impact. Serrano said she thinks very highly of Cardona because of the importance of seeing latinos represented in the education field.

“Our people have lots of opportunities, especially coming to universities like Central, where education’s kind of a popular major to have,” Serrano said. “It’s very nice to see a fellow educator in such a high position.”

After meeting students, Cardona attended a ceremony hosted by the CCSU Alumni Association and was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award. The award is given to a former student in recognition of outstanding service to the university, service to the community since graduation, and for professional excellence in their chosen profession. In addition to the Distinguished Alumni Service Award, Cardona was presented with a special gift on behalf of the university. An original art installation created by CCSU Professor of Art Vicente Garcia will be installed in Barnard Hall, the location of the School of Education and Professional Services, which Secretary Cardona graduated from.

The artwork was commissioned by Toro after Cardona was appointed as Education Secretary and consists of a series of ceramic vessels and wall discs featuring inspirational phrases in Spanish, which are parts of the acceptance speech Cardona shared when appointed.

Posted in The Bristol Press, General News on Friday, 3 December 2021 18:45. Updated: Friday, 3 December 2021 18:48.