On November 12, Naugatuck Valley Community College honored the country’s veterans and staff, faculty, and students who are current military members through a touching, interactive ceremony held in the College’s Leever Atrium. Sponsored by the Veterans Affairs Office and the Veterans Club the ceremony included speeches, singing, poetry, and a dedication of a wreath followed by a moment of silence. Matthew Steinerman, President of the College’s Veterans Club, and Corporal in the United States Marine Corps from 2011-2015 greeted the dozens of community members present. Anna-Nicole Doucette, a Naugatuck Valley student, led attendees in an emotionally resonant rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. President Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D. provided opening remarks. To the College’s 300 student veterans, President De Filippis said, “I'm moved to see how this group has grown,” she said recalling the College hosted its first Veterans Day Celebration more than a decade ago and the event has continued going thanks to the effort of numerous faculty and staff. “First and foremost,” she continued, “I thank our students, faculty, and staff who have served this country with honor." She and Steinerman then led the group in a reading of an excerpt from William Ralph Emerson’s poem, “‘A Nation’s Strength.”
The ceremony continued with an invocation recited by NVCC, Associate Professor of English, Pamela Tolbert-Bynum Rivers, Ed.D., and segued to observations from guest speaker Valerie J. Lofland, a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the United States Airforce and currently a Senior Aerospace Science Advisor AFJROTC at Naugatuck High School .
Following Lofland’s speech, NVCC Veteran students Andrew Iava and Matthew Bouchard reflected on their service and what the holiday means to them.
William Carleton, Diversity Recruitment, Advising & Retention Specialist at NVCC led attendees in a rendition of “America the Beautiful,” and Leo LaVallee, previously an interim Executive Director for the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra, played “Taps,” during the wreath dedication ceremony. According to Debbie DiCicco, Veterans’ Affairs Coordinator at the College, approximately 300 veterans currently attend NVCC and utilize the GI Bill, the CT State Veterans Tuition waiver, or the National Guard Tuition waiver.