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Alumni Hall Of Fame Gala In Bridgeport Raises $20K For HCC Scholarships

Guest speaker Sonia Manzano shares her story of having an inferior education and a drive to overcome obstacles. Photo Credit: contributed
Inaugural Friends of The College Award winners Carl and Barbara Johnson. Photo Credit: contributed
Guest speaker Peter WerthIII chose to work with inner-city Hartford students to create energy solutions for Nepal. Photo Credit: contributed
From left, Richard DuPont, Benjamin Ortiz, Robin L. Avant, Tiffany Teixeira, Barbara and Carl Johnson, Paul Broadie II and Christopher McCormack. Photo Credit: contributed

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. --  The Housatonic Community College Foundation hosted its Eighth Annual Alumni Hall Of Fame Gala recently at the campus Event Center.

The event, which featured keynote speakers Sonia Manzano and Peter Werth III, raised more than $20,000 in support of scholarships for needy students.

With a theme of "Stay Close. Go Far," the evening was dedicated to scholarship awareness and the impact scholarships have on students creating a path to success.

“Our students truly do go far," said HCC President Paul Broadie II. "It’s not an easy journey; many have obstacles in their way."

During the 2016-17 academic year, the HCC Foundation provided more than $200,000 in scholarships to students with limited resources, according to HCC.

“This college serves the region and the quality is first-rate,” said Christopher McCormack, president of the HCC Foundation. “The students here bring a seriousness to their studies. They’re here because they need to be; they are focusing on something that makes a difference in their lives.”

During the event four awards were presented. Benjamin Ortiz received the Distinguished Alumni award; Robin L. Avant received the Young Alumni Award; the Community Service Award went to Tiffany Teixeira, and Barbara and Carl Johnson were honored with the inaugural Friends of the College Award.

The highlight of the evening came when the winners shared their stories. 

Tiffany Teixeira graduated from HCC and went on to become a registered nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital and Miss Connecticut USA 2016.

“I got into pageantry, so I could be around positive women role models," said Teixeira. "Growing up in Bridgeport with a lack of resources, it’s very hard to find people who believe in you. Thank you HCC for believing in me.”

Sonia Manzano, who played Maria for 30 years on the hit PBS show "Sesame Street," shared how she used her difficult childhood to thrive, and congratulated HCC on its support of helping nontraditional students become successful.

“HCC students are in class with others who don’t share their cultural values, and that’s needed now more than ever," said Manzano.

Peter Werth III, founder and director of Himalaya Currents, which manages energy projects in Dolpa, Nepal, spoke of how he worked with students from inner-city Hartford to make an impact half a world away.

The evening was best summed up by State Sen. Marilyn Moore, who attended classes at HCC in the 1970s. 

“It’s all about people, and doing the right thing," she said. "These scholarships have an impact on generations; impact on other parts of the world. HCC is a birthplace for so many good things to happen; it truly is a gem in the community.”

For more information about the scholarship program, or to make a donation, contact the HCC Foundation office at 203-332-5293.

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