A Special Visit

Did you know that there is a push to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour? The current administration feels this move is needed to get full-time workers out of poverty.

Would you be willing to stand outside, braving the freezing temperatures, for the opportunity to hear Vice President Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden speak? Trust me, it was worth it! MCC (Monroe Community College) Applied Technologies Center hosted the event, at which Vice President Biden discussed a topic near and dear to students hearts: education directed at jobs that are currently unfilled. After Vice President Biden’s presentation, exposing the job openings due to the lack of workers that have specific training, Dr. Jill Biden, who is herself a professor at a community college, discussed the important role community college programs fulfill as they adapt programs to supply the training currently in demand by businesses.

Claudia Gordon (First African American deaf woman political appointee with the Obama Administration, serving as Special Assistant to the Director of the US Department of Labor) was able to secure a few tickets for NTID President Dr. Buckley. Twelve students, along with some professors, were fortunate to attend this unique experience. I was happy to see some familiar RIT/NTID faculty members attending when I arrived, including our wonderful Dr. Buckley, Dr. Todd Pagano (Professor of the Year), Dr. Jessica Cuculick (NTID alumna, who recently earned her Ph.D.), Professor/Lawyer/Rabbi Dr. Jennifer Gravitz, Dean/Professor Dr. Schmitz, Marianne Gustafson (Associate Dean for Curriculum & Special Projects), and last but not least, one of the most humble people I have ever met in my life, Dr. Bernie Hurwitz (Executive Assistant to the President).

My favorite part of Vice President Joe Biden’s speech was: “Men and women paid equally should happen.” I couldn’t agree more. What a powerful statement!

The Bidens reminded us that education truly leads to economic prosperity. They noted that manufacturing jobs are coming back to the US as the previous trend of outsourcing reverses.

Overall, I am grateful for this opportunity of a lifetime. I also presented a copy of my autobiography, Austin’s Gift, to an assistant of US Senator Schumer. That was pretty exciting for me!

On a personal note, thank you Claudia Gordon and NTID for making this experience possible!

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Senator Charles E. Schumer

How wonderful that following the sequestration, funding for NTID has been increased by $4 million dollars! Many more dreams and ambitions can be fulfilled, thanks to the restoration of federal support. It was especially touching to be present to learn of Senator Schumer’s praise of NTID students, who (he reported) have greater success and more productive careers than any other comparable educational institution in the United States. He attributes this to our excellent faculty, the wonderful programming, the excellent educational  opportunities available at NTID, as well as our awesome student body. I was honored to have the opportunity to shake the Senator’s hand, and personally thank him for his support of our programs. Experiencing how beneficial NTID’s support has been during my college career, I was elated to convey my appreciation to Senator Schumer for his support in sustaining NTID’s programming. President Buckley enthusiastically welcomed the Senator, pointing out the contributions NTID has made (and continues to make) to RIT and the Rochester community. I was very proud of our faculty and my peers. Here is a link to the press release.

As promised, here is the upload of my meeting with baby Blake and his parents at the one year anniversary of his heart transplant!

Spring semester begins Monday and I can hardly wait! I am excited about my new classes. However, before classes begin, I will attend the women’s hockey game this Saturday. They will be auctioning off the “autism” themed jerseys: I LOVE THE DESIGN! I am proud to be part of a university with strong athletic programs that show great sportsmanship, student body enthusiasm, and who interact in community programs! Go TIGERS!