An award for helping low-income, first-generation-to-college students gain access to higher education was presented to Gettysburg College Dean of Intercultural Advancement Pete Curry.
Twenty-six students have graduated from Gettysburg College after coming to campus via Philadelphia Futures, which gave Curry its “Hats Off to You” award.
“It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that my time with Dean Curry has shaped my life,” said Unique Patterson `10, one of the graduates and current students who surrounded Curry at the June 5 ceremony in Philadelphia.
“Dean Curry really thrives when he keeps growing right along with us. That’s part of his magic. And that’s why everyone loves him and feels so lucky to have him in our corner,” said Vasiljon Cobo ’14. More student comments are below.
"For the last 11 years, Philadelphia Futures has had the honor of sharing a groundbreaking college partnership with Gettysburg College," said Philadelphia Futures Executive Director Joan C. Mazzotti, Executive Director of Philadelphia Futures. "Pete has played a significant role in our students’ success. He has been a great partner and friend to all of us. None of this would be possible without his fervent dedication and work. We are grateful for the opportunities that have been afforded to our traditionally underrepresented students, and look forward to many more years of successful partnership with Gettysburg."
“Pete, you are our friend and you are our hero,” Mazzotti said. “It is a privilege to share with you a common and critical mission of educational advancement for all students. We are deeply grateful for your steadfast commitment to our scholars and to the broader success of all low-income, first-generation-to-college students.”
Philadelphia Futures prepares high-potential, economically disadvantaged students to enter and succeed in college by providing the tools, resources and opportunities necessary for their success. It has helped 400 students obtain degrees. The June 5 ceremony at which Curry received his award was a celebrations of Philadelphia Futures’ latest high school and collegiate grads.
Jennifer Ramirez '08
I am a proud 2008 graduate of Gettysburg College. I am thrilled to be here tonight to help honor Dean Curry.
When I arrived at Gettysburg in 2004, I was stunned by just about everything I encountered – people didn’t look like me, the academic work nearly took my breath away, and I found myself plopped in the middle of Pennsylvania cow-country and its Civil War battlefields. I was in another world.
And when I found myself struggling in that first semester, Dean Curry said something very important to me. He said, “It’s not can you do the work; it’s will you do the work?”
He knew I could do the work. He believed in me.
And he didn’t want to let any excuse get in my way.
All of us up here can remember the many words of wisdom that Dean knew to say at just the right time. One of my favorites was when he would say, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” He wanted us to realize that if we wanted different outcomes in our lives, we had to choose to do things differently to help make a change.
But sometimes it was not just his words that were life-changing, but his actions.
In 2006 my father passed away. Dean didn’t just ask me how I was doing or send a sympathy card. He came to the funeral. He showed me the kind of support that he had come to embody in his work with students. His presence with me that day was very powerful. That kindness will stay with me forever – it truly helped me to navigate a very difficult time in my life. For that, Pete, I am ever grateful.
Vasiljon Cobo ’14
At the heart of what Dean Curry does is the way he helps his students discover who they are. He invites us to take risks, to listen to one another, to dare to consider another perspective. He encourages us to embrace a global worldview. He wants our worlds to be as big as possible. He has a big vision for all of us – and is just aching for us to step into our best.
I have spent lots of time with Dean at the men’s events he hosts at his house. At these events, it’s important to him to create an atmosphere of support. And he does just that. Dean Curry has helped me to open up about important things and connect to people from other urban areas like where I come from. Like so many students, I will always be grateful for his kindness, his tough love and his warm hospitality.
But Dean knows me well enough to know that this tribute can’t be all serious, because no matter how big a worldview he hopes I develop, he knows his own worldview still has room to grow. I won’t rest until he gives Italian soccer a chance, and I know he won’t rest until I cheer for the Cleveland Browns in at least one football game. We both know there is probably very little chance of either one of those things happening. But we keep trying. And I think that’s the point.
Dean Curry really thrives when he keeps growing right along with us. That’s part of his magic. And that’s why everyone loves him and feels so lucky to have him in our corner.
Unique Patterson ’10
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that my time with Dean Curry has shaped my life. My work in the Intercultural Resource Center during college, the weekly meetings I had with him, the ways he inspired me to follow my heart when choosing a major – all of these things have shaped me.
Today I work at Franklin and Marshall College with the National College Advising Corps, serving high school students and helping them navigate the complex web of college admissions. It is my personal mission to support low-income, first-generation-to-college students, and Dean Curry has been largely influential in this. He used to say to us, “Be true to yourself, no matter where you find yourself.”
Like Dean Curry, I hope to pursue a career in higher education – specifically, I want to work in the field of college retention. This is the best way I can think of to be true to myself and to the world around me. And I will always be grateful for his insight and influence.Posted: Fri, 17 Aug 2012