Senator Delgado Offers Advice for NEIU Students

Gary Soriano, Arts and Life Editor


photo by Joe Darvis
Sen Delgado steps away from the podium and gets more intimate with the crowd

photo by Joe Davis
English department secretary Toni Scott helped to bring the senator back to campus

photo by Joe Davis
Students pose with senator Delgado. Food provided by Nellie’s

After a brief tour of his alma mater, Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) alumnus and Illinois State Senator William Delgado delivered a keynote address in the Recital Hall followed up by a question-and-answer session open to all attendees. “I was really proud and pleased to welcome the Senator back,” American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) President and University Archive Librarian Ellen Larrimore said. Larrimore introduced Delgado before his address, citing his many accomplishments as Senator and former General Assembly representative.

One of the most notable issues Larrimore felt needed to be recognized was Delgado’s stance on the working class. She asserted his voting record on labor issues is 100%. “Very few other legislators can come close to that,” Larrimore said. “He has a deep-seated belief that working people are the backbone of our country.”

Another of the many issues Delgado supports is education. He was relieved to see the strike end and to see Chicago Public School teachers come to an agreement so that children could return to schools. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who received an invitation from Delgado who hosted the 19th annual All Kids and Family Health Fair in Mozart Park, observed the distribution of 4,000 backpacks with school supplies, free immunizations, back-to-school checkups, health screenings for children and adults and other medical assistance that may not be accessible to lower income households with children attending public schools. Delgado began this program almost two decades ago.

Delgado’s visibility is apparent in all of the communities he represents, particularly that which he grew up in. “He does a lot for the community of Humboldt Park,” NEIU Library Specialist Craig Althage said. As the Illinois State Senate District 2 representative, Delgado knows what it is like to grow up in lower class, poverty-stricken and minority-dominated neighborhoods of Chicago.  “He had a difficult early life and he talked so openly about it,” Larrimore said. Delgado shared his experiences as a first-generation American in a country where racial segregation was still prevalent and the color of one’s skin could still affect societal status. When his father arrived, Delgado said, his excitement and hopes of an opportunistic America were diminished and he escaped through alcohol. “His happy hour became our sad hour,” Delgado said.

“Call me Willie,” Delgado said midway through his lecture. The senator’s warm and welcoming manner could not be ignored. Although he had material written and prepared specifically for his visit, the latter half of his talk was spent away from the podium as he paced the Recital Hall’s stage discussing his passion for his work, family life and his commitment to encouraging and motivating the youth, particularly the students of NEIU, to pursue their goals. “A degree is power that they cannot take away from you,” Delgado said. Utilizing the metaphor of a tool box, Delgado asked students to fill it with beliefs that can be shared with like-minded individuals in order to create the awareness that we are not alone in those beliefs. Most of all, he encouraged the need to always be “righteous.”

Senator Delgado believes and supports the students of NEIU. “You motivate me,” he responded after shaking hands with some students outside the Student Union building. With a warm and familiar smile, Delgado provided mental tools for students to employ throughout their academic career and beyond. As Larrimore affirmed, “students who did attend got some sound advice from him.”