Goodwin Contingent Inspired by Presidential Visit
NEW BRITAIN – Enthusiasm was mounting in a Central Connecticut State University gymnasium on March 5 when “Hail to the Chief” began to play and President Obama made his entrance.
And, as the President made his way to the podium, a contingent of Goodwin College students and staff members were a mere three rows away.
“It was really good to see how invested people are in what President Obama had to say about important issues like raising the minimum wage and equal pay for women,” said Tianna Ferguson, a Goodwin student aspiring to enter the Nursing program.
Ferguson, from Enfield, is a prominent member of the Goodwin’s Women Invested in Securing an Education (WISE) program. She waited three hours in the cold for the President to arrive, attending the event along with WISE Coordinator Latanya Kennedy and Americorps VISTA Meghan Gallagher. Congressman John B. Larson, a CCSU grad and resident of East Hartford, provided tickets to Goodwin.
Manny Sanchez, a member of the New Britain City Council and Goodwin’s Employer Relations Coordinator, secured prime seating for the contingent for the President’s speech.
“We very much wanted to have our students be a part of this experience,” Kennedy said. “Being able to partner with CCSU gave us the opportunity to see what an incredible impact a presidential visit creates.”
President Obama was visiting to advocate that the national minimum wage be raised to $10.10. Connecticut, along with states including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont, have all recently raised their state minimum wages. The respective state governors, including Connecticut’s Dan Malloy, support the President’s initiative and joined him at CCSU.
In his speech, President Obama delved into the need for quality educational opportunities at all levels, regardless of obstacles that may be in place hindering academic success and job training.
“The bottom line though is whether it’s technical training, community college, or four-year university, no young person should be priced out of a higher education,” President Obama said.
Gallagher is from upstate New York and was the first in her family to graduate from college. She is spending the next year as an Americorps volunteer working at Goodwin. She was especially inspired by the message that, regardless of background, anyone can succeed.
“So many of us understand that at the heart of America, the central premise of this country is the chance to achieve your dreams if you work hard, if you take responsibility; that it doesn’t matter where you start — it’s where you finish,” President Obama said.
Ferguson took heart in the President’s push to raise the minimum wage, which she believes would be very beneficial to students.
“A higher minimum wage would make paying for college more manageable for many more students,” Ferguson said.
The contingent also expressed hope that someday President Obama might make a visit to Goodwin, either during his time in office or afterward. Having experienced a day of Secret Service checks, long lines, and enthusiastic crowds, Gallagher said it would be an honor to host the President on the River Campus.
“It would be madness, but it would be worth it,” she said, to the agreement of her contingent.