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Townsend Harris High School hosted the inauguration for alumna Nily Rozic to the New York State Assembly. The event took place on January 27 in the auditorium.
In her acceptance speech, Rozic said “Thank you all for honoring me today. I’m deeply grateful to all of you who have helped me. Thank you to all of my great friends who have supported me.”
She also thanked members of the Townsend Harris community for their support: “I want to thank Principal Barbetta, and Mr. Scardino, who taught me to not only identify problems but roll up my sleeves and solve them. He is actually so dedicated to his job that he’s not here today, but this is as much his accomplishment as mine.”
In particular, she described the influence the Ephebic Oath had on her. “This oath set me on the path to public service, to leave my city greater than I found it.”
In addition to members of the school community being in attendance, the auditorium was packed with attendees ranging from Assemblymen and Councilmen to Senators and Borough Presidents, many of whom shared their thoughts.
City Councilman Mark Weprin acted as the Master of Ceremonies. In his opening speech, he praised Rozic for her many accomplishments.
“What Nily has done is incredible,” he said. “It was a great time for me to serve in the Assembly, and I’m happy for Nily that she will experience that same excitement.”
United States Senior Senator Chuck Schumer also offered words of encouragement for Rozic.
“When I look at Nily’s career, it bears a striking resemblance to my career,” said Schumer. “No one thought I would win, and no one thought Nily would win. She is hardworking, dedicated, smart, and committed to her community. She got in the old fashioned way, and she deserves it.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng said, “Townsend Harris does a great job in promoting government awareness and teaching how to be a good American. Nily has been a role model for people throughout Queens. I expect many great things out of Nily. I was really impressed when voters told me she knocked on their door four times. Our assembly district is fortunate to have her.”
The final speaker was Justice Bernice Siegal of the Queens County Supreme Court. She linked Rozic’s success to her time at THHS: “It is only right and proper that she be here, back in Queens and Townsend Harris, because it is one of the best high schools in New York, which has produced many great alumni.”
Students and staff members shared their thoughts about the event.
Sophomore Nina Leeds said, “Nily is just such an inspiration. It’s so great to see a young woman getting involved in politics, especially her, who is so hardworking and passionate about what she does.”
Social Studies teacher Franco Scardino described Rozic’s student career at Townsend Harris and beyond. “She was a student of mine in both government and social science research, so I got to know her really well,” he said.
He added, “What struck me is she showed a real interest in improving her community’s quality of life. She embraced the Ephebic Oath. She started interning with elected officials when she was here. At NYU she continued interning. She knew from a young age she wanted to work in politics. I supported her because I have a lot of love and loyalty for her. I think she’ll be a very strong voice for progressive issues, like education and the environment. I couldn’t think of a better candidate than a Townsend Harris alumna running for an assembly seat that represents the school.”
Former Dean Wanda Nix said, “The school has always been about public and community service, and Nily’s accomplishments represent the culmination of our dreams and aspirations.”
Principal Anthony Barbetta praised Rozic’s speech.
“What I like about her speech was her optimism. She has a strong desire to help people and the community. And, she has an ambitious agenda,” he said.
The principal commented on those in attendance, saying: “I really liked how the auditorium was packed. It says a lot about Nily. I saw a lot of diversity in ethnicity, age and religion. Students who didn’t attend missed a wonderful event, a part of Townsend Harris history.”
Mr. Barbetta also greatly appreciated Senator Schumer for his participation in the event. “It was an honor to have a United States Senator speak here,” he said. “Senator Schumer made a great presentation.”
He added, “As I was sitting there on stage, I just thought, ‘Today: State Assemblywoman, tomorrow: Mayor!’”