125th anniversary officially kicks off


Jacob WaringContributor

President Joe Bertolino commenced the 125th Anniversary Kickoff Celebration of the university’s beginning last week.

Southern’s Blue Steel Drumline were introduced to kick off the celebration as those in attendance circled the quad.

Bertolino spoke about partnerships with the Regional Water Authority, Gateway and Housatonic Community Colleges and the university’s commitment to educating students in the growing bio-technology industry. Bertolino also hinted at various events happening throughout the year, and homecoming.

In addition, Bertolino discussed other topics such as the Barack H. Obama Magnet University School- -which will be used for kindergarten through the fourth grade students. At the celebration, Bertolino announced the university is receiving a $3.68 million grant—which is the largest grant the university has ever received.

The Center for Disease Control awarded the university to the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) program,.

He also added that the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program will also be benefitting from this grant.

He said the grant would be utilized for “vulnerable populations in health care and social services.”

During his speech, 100-year-old Patricia Herbert sat in her wheelchair—an alumna of the class of 1940. Other guests in attendance were the President of Alumni Association Chris Borajkiewicz and Mark E. Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system.

Borajkiewicz spoke of his life’s journey and how it brought him to this moment of speaking to students on the same campus he once walked back in 1998. His parents came from Poland, and eventually lived in New Haven with his family in a tight-knit community. He said his family experienced tragedy at a young age as his father died when he was nine.

“To be honest,” he said, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do after college. But to come here allowed me [to do] two things. One, it allowed me to stay close to home. Two, and more importantly, it allowed me the affordability.”

He said he did not realize how big of a part Southern would play in his life. The lessons he learned from the school, he said were ones not out of a book; they taught him how to think critically, form relationships and develop into a productively determined individual. He said he knows students are not afraid to work hard and get their hands dirty.

“I know this because in the last ten years, I’ve hired these students from Southern to work as interns,” he said. “Two of which have become valuable, permanent members of my team. I will always hire Southern first, because I know where we come from and what we’re made of.”

He closed by sharing what he learned since leaving Southern twenty years ago. He said,“Work hard, work smart, take responsibility, give back.”

He said he gave back by establishing a scholarship to benefit those whom are just like him and who came after him. Lastly, he said his biggest regrets were not his failures but rather what he never tried to do.

Bertolino said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D) had stopped by earlier to present to the university a plaque from the one hundred and fifteenth Congress of the U.S. House of Representatives in honor of the school reaching the one hundred and twenty fifth milestone. President Ojakian said he thought of this university as a shining example of what is right in the state of Connecticut, and what is right with the country.

“I love coming to this campus, to feeling the energy, to being surrounded by the great students that attend this institution. Keep up the great work, and the best of luck for the next 125 years,” said Ojakian.

Two new banners celebrating the one hundred and twenty fifth anniversary now hang on the exterior of Hilton C. Buley Library. He, Borajkiewicz, Ojakian, Herbert and others pulled the rope to reveal one of the banners.

Haroon Chaudhry, a senior, business administration major, said he had admiration for those who have supported the community through various means beyond the grant.

“It’s amazing to see how people have contributed a lot of stuff, and given back to the community,” said Chaudhry.

Photo Credit: Jacob Waring

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