U.S. Secretary of Education visits campus

Dr. Miguel Cardona speaks at Hispanic/Latinx heritage month celebration

Madeline S. ScharfNews Editor

To celebrate the 12th Annual Empowering Lives: A Celebration of Heritage and Esperanza/ Hope, the United States Secretary of Education, Dr. Miguel Cardona spoke.

The event was held in honor of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month.

“September 15 is the anniversary of the independence of Latin American countries,” said Dian Brown-Albert, director of multicultural affairs, who opened the presentation with an explanation of Hispanic/ Latinx Heritage Month’s origins. The director also said that Hispanic/Latinx people should “honor, celebrate, and appreciate their culture.”

“This is one of a series of events to celebrate Latinx Heritage month,” said President Joe Bertolino, speaking on the university’s continued efforts for equality and equity. He spoke on the work the school is doing, such as the “establishment of the Diversity and Equity office, and beginning a process of self-reflection,” said Bertolino.

Bertolino discussed the work administrators are working on to further make the university an inclusive and equitable one. “Senior leadership has spent time in discussions to take a step back and reflect on what we can do,” said Bertolino. “My hope [is] over the course of the academic year, you will see improvement.”

Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona, appointed by President Joe Biden in March of this year, then began by discussing the effect being Latinx had on his life. “What I love about being Latino,” said Cardona, “is the sense of family.” He discussed how Latinx influences in his life lead him to where he was that day and encouraged listeners to “think about people in your community who have foraged the path you walk now.”

Cardona was originally scheduled to appear via video conference. His ability to speak in[1]person after Bertolin’s introduction appeared to be a last-minute decision. He shook hands with Bertolino and addressed the spectators of the event.

Cardona reflected on his life in his hometown of Meriden, Conn., the son of two Latinx immigrants.

“I was born rich with community,” said Cardona. His father and brother were both police officers, while his sister was a social worker. Cardona said that because of his family’s influence, he “learned early on to serve others.”

Cardona granted much credit to his family and community for where he is now, serving in United States President Joe Biden’s cabinet.

“There were sacrifices made by the generations before me to get me here,” said Cardona.

Embracing one’s culture was a main theme throughout the event, both Latinx and others. “In no small part I embraced different perspectives to be where I am as Secretary of Education,” said Cardona. “We must have the ability to celebrate our differences under one flag.”

Cardona emphasized he important position of American educators.

“It is the role of the educators to help [students in America] become critical thinkers,” said Cardona. Because of this, he believes that educators, as well as all people, should “stay true to who you are, and do it in a way that embraces others as well.”

Cardona felt strongly towards the idea that people should “honor those who gave up a lot to get you to where you are now,” he said.

The secretary closed his speech with an inspirational call to action for all. Cardona said: “it is on us to make sure we make our education good for the next generation.”

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