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Helping Hartford Students Achieve Their Dreams
Peter Stevens (center), president of JCJ Architecture, presents University of Hartford junior Elizabeth Rodriguez with the Mayor's Scholar Award, as President Walter Harrison looks on.
Hartford Courant columnist Stan Simpson acted as master of ceremonies and opened the event—held Wednesday night at the Hartford Marriott Downtown—by recognizing some of the 63 Hartford Scholars who were present among the approximately 200 guests in attendance.
“Tonight these students represent a large majority of their peers,” said Simpson. “They are trying to make something of themselves, excel academically, and fulfill their dreams.”
President Walter Harrison thanked those attending for having faith in the Hartford Scholars Program and its students. He recognized Arturo Arroyo ’03, who graduated with a degree in architectural engineering technology and now works for JCJ Architecture in Hartford, where he had interned as a Hartford Scholar.
“Arturo works in Hartford and lives in Hartford. That’s what this program is all about,” said Harrison. “The partnership between the University, JCJ Architecture, and the city of Hartford helps students achieve their dreams.”
John H. Motley, former executive director of external affairs for the Hartford Public Schools and former president of the St. Paul Travelers Connecticut Foundation, was the keynote speaker. “Do our children have a chance?” asked Motley as he began his address. “The question is do our children have a prayer, and the answer must be yes.”
He recognized the work of Marilyn Risi, executive director of Upper Albany Main Street, and Mary Christensen, director of the University’s Educational Main Street program, in Hartford’s North End. “Too many kids start their freshman year in high school and drop out before they try,” said Motley. “We need to create a situation where we show them a better way and a better path to public education. Kids need to dream so big that no punk on the street can turn them around.”
Peter Stevens, president of JCJ Architecture, presented Elizabeth Rodriguez,a Hartford Scholar majoring in sociology and criminal justice, with the Mayor’s Scholar Award. The $1,000 award recognizes academic achievement and the role a student plays in both the University and greater Hartford communities. It is funded by JCJ Architecture and was created as part of Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez's initiative to increase the number of Hartford students attending college. Perez sent congratulations to Rodriguez, and State Treasurer Denise Nappier sent her a commendation letter.
Rodriguez, the first in her family to attend college, is a resident assistant at the University, and works at the Hartford Financial Services Group while taking classes. She completed an internship at the Young Offenders program in Hartford and will intern at the Probation Center in Hartford. She is currently president of the University's Naciones Hispanas Unidas organization.
“The Hartford Scholars Program has been a blessing and determined whether or not I furthered my college education,” said Rodriguez. “It’s a great benefit to Hartford and its community. I thank you all.”
Event Chair Hal Smullen, executive vice president and chief operating officer of R.C. Knox & Co., thanked the audience for supporting the dinner and recognized Landmark Partners, the event’s premier sponsor, and gold sponsor MassMutual.