On September 27, 1199 Delegates in Syracuse and central New York celebrated the educational achievements of members who participated in the 1199SEIU Training & Upgrading Fund program for the class year 2011-2012.
The keynote address was given by Rita Paniagua, the Executive Director of the Spanish Action League of Onondaga County, Inc. She spoke about the growing Latino community in Central New York, and the importance of education when she said, “Prosperity starts with education.”
Terri Terpening and her husband Richard spoke about how the Fund has changed Terri’s life. Terri was so filled with emotion that it was hard for her to speak at first, so her husband stood by her side and shared her story with us. They have been married for 15 years and in that time, he said he had never seen his wife crack the binding of a book. Now that she is getting her education she is almost never without a book in her hand. He said that when she is not working, she is studying. Terri didn’t realize how much she loved learning until she became a part of the TUF program. She said how grateful she is to be getting her GED, and how she will continue to further her education when she has completed this first step.
The ceremony included entertainment by members who are both dedicated healthcare professionals, and talented performers. Jose Miguel Hernandez, who works at Rosewood Heights and is currently studying to be an RN, performed a selection from his one man show, “From Cuba to ‘Cuse.” He acted out what it was like to arrive from Cuba not speaking English. He drew laughs from the audience when describing ending up in snowy Syracuse, NY from the sunny Caribbean.
Keneshia Cope, who works at Loretto and is doing HC4 Prep, talked about her educational journey and graced the members with her voice by singing a song in acapella.