College President Named One of Six ‘Wonder Women’ by Malta House of Care

WATERBURY — Naugatuck Valley Community College President Daisy Cocco de Filippis, Ph. D, was one of six inductees to receive a “Wonder Woman” Award from the Malta House of Care on April 25 at their ninth Celebrating Wonder Women Awards Ceremony.

The Malta House of Care runs a mobile medical clinic providing high-quality, free primary health care to uninsured adults in Greater Hartford. 

Each week, the big white Malta van visits several neighborhoods, two in Hartford and one in East Hartford. They provide physicals, testing, immunizations, medications, health coaching and more.

The vans are made possible by a corps of volunteer doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who contribute about 1,000 hours of free medical care each year, as well as thousands of financial supporters. The awards honor women who “improve their communities on stage or behind-the-scenes.” This year, six community servants were chosen from a pool of 64 nominees by an eight-person Wonder Women Selection Committee using an anonymous electronic tool.

Since 2008, President de Filippis has served as president of NVCC. Under her leadership, student retention has steadily risen, graduation awards have grown and a thriving expanded campus in Danbury was developed.

This year, students benefited from the college’s fourth Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence, Aguibou Sanou, who taught dance classes at the college, was an integral part of the second International Arts Festival at NVCC and taught classes at Waterbury Arts Magnet School.

In Waterbury, the creation of evening bus service was an initiative introduced by the president in collaboration with local Council of Government leaders and NVCC students and administrators. The bus service was needed to enable students to travel to and from evening classes at NVCC.

The idea blossomed into the establishment of citywide evening bus service in 2011 with wide-spanning economic benefits. 

As a result of the evening bus service, hospital employees who work the third shift and are dependent on public transportation now have an easier time traveling to work.

In the last year, NVCC was named one of the top 25 community colleges nationwide in advancing opportunities for low-income students and its Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center was selected as a national finalist for the 2019 Bellwether Award in the area of workforce development.

The AMTC program, along with other areas of study such as the electronic engineering technology associate degree program, provide relevant, sought-after job skills with students often receiving job offers before they graduate.

President De Filippis holds a Ph.D. in Spanish language and a M.Phil. in Spanish literature from the Graduate School and University Center of CUNY, an M.A. in Spanish literature, a B.A. in Spanish and English literatures summa cum laude from Queens College, CUNY and an honorary doctorate in humanities from the University of Santo Domingo in recognition of her contribution to Dominican, Caribbean and Dominican Diaspora literature.

She serves on the Connecticut Technical High School System Board, the Prospect Waterbury Local Advisory Board, the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board, the advisory board of the Dominican Studies Institute at the City College, CUNY and on the board of the Dominican Studies Association.

She is a regular panelist at the Higher Education Resource Services Wellesley Conference where she provides leadership and career advice to approximately 60 women each spring.

President De Filippis recently completed nine-year terms of service on both the Board of Directors for the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of Greater Waterbury.

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