Waterbury, Conn. - Legislators, city officials and NVCC administrators, staff and students came together for the College’s fourth annual Leadership Breakfast (formerly Legislative Breakfast), "Serving Students… Serving Communities," on Fri., Jan. 17, to share successful approaches that have addressed the educational, employment and community needs of our shared constituencies and to explore mutual interests moving forward.
Attendees were given an overview of the College’s growth over the past five years by NVCC President Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D., Provost and Senior Dean of Administration James Troup and Dean of Community Engagement Waldemar Kostrzewa.
Attendees, who included Senator Joe Markley, 16th district, Representatives Jeff Berger, 73rd district; Victor Cuevas, 75th district; Rosa Rebimbas, 70th district; and Lezlye Zupkus, 89th district from the state legislature as well as economic development and community partners from across the service region, spoke to common interests and opportunities and recognized their interactions with NVCC students and graduates throughout the community.
Perhaps the most inspiring voice of the day, however, came from NVCC’s own student government president Davey Peguero, a fourth semester business management student who intends to graduate in May.
In his remarks, Davey for the first time related a story in which he learned about NVCC from across a basketball court and made a decision that rerouted the next two years of his life.
“One day during my senior year, I was playing basketball at the local YMCA with a recent graduate of Danbury High School, Louis Perez, a really smart kid,” Davey recalled. “I asked him what had made him go to Naugatuck Valley Community College... I asked because I knew him as an ‘A’ student and someone who had become a role model to others in the high school.”
“This is our way out,” Louis told Davey at the time, a message that Davey reiterated Friday on behalf of all NVCC students.
“Truly without financial aid, Pell grants, the Governor’s grant and folks like the North West Regional Workforce Investment Board I couldn’t have afforded to be here… it is our way out. A way to a better future,” he said.
A second generation immigrant of the Dominican Republic, Davey came to NVCC through CCS (Community College Scholars) and W.A.V.E. (Workforce Achievers Value Education), both grant-funded programs targeted toward integrating first year students into successful college practices.
“My parents, coming here to this country without resources and left truly to their own devices were the real entrepreneurs… without NVCC, I wouldn’t have been able to do that kind of self-discovery,” Davey added, singling out his father in the crowd as his hero.
What Davey didn’t relate was a time in his high school career when school was a non-priority and college wasn’t even on the radar. Now he is on track to graduate on time with a 3.7 GPA, a resume highlighted by leadership experience and a clear vision for becoming an entreprenuer.
“I have a plan. I know where I want to be at 24 and I can’t lose focus,” he said in a follow-up conversation.
Davey received a standing ovation from a crowd filled with directors, leaders and managers as well as several joking pleas to please not run for office. But most of all, he received the speaking and networking experience of a lifetime.
“I relate a lot to a story like Davey’s, because that’s my story,” said Rep. Cuevas, who also graduated from NVCC.
“The work you do here is real and it changes people for the better,” he added.
NVCC is also pleased to have welcomed several new voices to this year’s event, including First Selectmen Christopher Bielik, Beacon Falls; Edmond Mone, Thomaston; Edward B. St. John, Middlebury and George Temple, Oxford.