State Senator and NEIU alumni William Delgado will return to campus to deliver a keynote address and speak with students on Sept. 20, 2012. In an event sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Senator Delgado will deliver his address and engage in a question-and-answer session in the Recital Hall from 1 to 3 P.M.
Senator Delgado represents Illinois State Senate District 2, including the communities of Belmont Cragin, Logan Square, Hermosa and parts of Austin, Dunning, Humboldt Park, Montclare and Portage Park. Before he walked the halls of the Illinois Capitol Building, though, he walked the halls of NEIU. Senator Delgado graduated with a B.A. in Criminal Justice in 1982.
“I think he’s very dynamic, I think he’s very personable, and I think he’s very real -he’s always had an open door policy with students,” said Toni Scott of the English department, who was instrumental in getting the Senator to revisit his alma mater. “I want him to talk about his struggles and what it was like for him growing up,” Scott said of her hopes for the address. “Most importantly, I want students to have access to him.”
Senator Delgado was appointed to the Senate in 2006 after serving in the House of Representatives since 1999. The Democratic Senator has worked for progressive causes during his time in office, citing healthcare and education as being among his priorities. Every year, Senator Delgado sponsors the All Kids and Family Health Fair, an event that is open to the public and includes screenings and immunizations.
Senator Delgado’s visit will allow students the chance to learn more about the role state government plays in their lives before they go to the polls this November. For Amir Bastanipour, junior justice studies and sociology major, the economy is first on his list of concerns. “What are they doing to help keep people in their jobs and homes?” he asked. Beyond that, Bastanipour expresses concern for a number of marginalized communities. He cites “food deserts in high poverty areas,” and marriage equality as being among issues he cares about.
To reach other students, Senator Delgado will have to combat the stereotype of the elected official as opportunistic political animal. When Katie Galmiche, junior English/secondary education major was asked if she had any questions about education she would like to hear addressed, she responded, “I’m sick of hearing about what politicians and special interest groups have to say about education, because they’re not educators.”
If the opportunity to interact with a lawmaker in this crucial election year is not enough of a draw, perhaps the food will be – there will be a reception after the event with food from Nellie’s Restaurant, one of Senator Delgado’s favorites.
The Senator’s visit was borne of a lobbying trip AFSCME took to Springfield, the state capital. “He was one of the few to open his door to us and say, ‘come on in, ask me questions,’” said Scott. “I think that’s really indicative of who he is and how he leads.”
Scott described Senator Delgado as “very excited to come.” She compared the Senator’s attitude toward students, and his own success, to the speech given by First Lady Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention. “You don’t close the door behind you. You leave it open for someone else to come through. And that’s exactly what he’s done all along.”
Look for flyers around campus to register for the event.