U.S. Secretary of Education
Recipient of Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters – Evening Ceremony
As the nation’s 12th Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona has provided leadership to our country at a time when the traditional systems of public education have been completely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cardona began his career as an elementary teacher in Meriden, Conn., and then served as a school principal, where he introduced groundbreaking programming for three- to five-year-olds, students that were bilingual, and students with sensory exceptionalities.
Cardona served in this role for 10 years, earning the 2012 National Distinguished Principal Award for the State of Connecticut and the Outstanding Administrator Award from UCONN’s Neag School of Education. He then transitioned to lead the work of performance and evaluation in the district, overseeing teaching, learning, and leadership alignment as assistant superintendent.
In March 2021, Cardona was sworn in as the nation’s 12th Secretary of Education after serving for the previous two years as Commissioner of Education in Connecticut. During the pandemic, he led the state’s safe school reopening efforts.
At the federal level, his work has been especially impactful for students at Southern. His advocacy on behalf of student loan forgiveness is directly relevant to our students and our alumni, as well as some of our faculty and staff.
In addition, the openness with which Cardona has described his journey as a child of Puerto Rican parents who entered Connecticut K-12 schools to becoming a teacher and an advocate for fellow English language learners resonates with our students. And his experience mirrors our social justice-driven mission to provide access to members of underrepresented and underserved communities in Connecticut.