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NCC Grad is Special Guest at President's State of Union Address

Contributed photo
Contributed photo
When President Obama delivers his fifth State of the Union Address to Congress at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28 in Washington, D.C., NCC graduate Lucas Codognolla will be there. Each year, members of Congress may invite one guest to the State of the Union, which takes place in the House of Representative’s Chamber in the Capitol Building. 

Codognolla, 23, will be the special guest of U.S. Representative Jim Himes (Dem.). Himes selected Codognolla, a Stamford resident, to raise awareness of Connecticut Students for a DREAM, an immigration reform and educational equity movement for which Codognolla is a lead coordinator.

Codognolla is an advocate for the educational rights of undocumented students. For the past year, he also has worked as a paralegal for an immigration attorney in Stamford. Codognolla is a native of Brazil who was brought into this country illegally by his parents when he was nine years old. He didn’t learn of his undocumented status until years later when applying for a driver’s permit. 

Himes announced the invitation on Jan. 22 at Neighbor’s Link in Stamford, a nonprofit organization that provides resources for recent immigrants. 

“I found out last week when I got a call from a Washington D.C. phone number and it turned out to be Congressman Himes himself,” Codognolla said in a release. “He said, ‘Lucas, I want to take you as my guest to highlight the need for educational reform.’ I was speechless. The hardest part was keeping it a secret.”

A graduate of Westhill High School in Stamford, Codognolla graduated from NCC in 2011. At NCC, he was an honors student and President of the Student World Assembly. He also served as a senator to the Student Government and was Op/Ed Editor of the Voice student newspaper. 

Codognolla received the college’s Distinguished Student Award in 2011 and was awarded the Olivia Vlahos Transfer Scholarship.

“At NCC I became involved with clubs and organizations and my whole world was opened up to social injustice,” Codognolla recalls. “I learned about human rights and helping others and fighting for social justice. I didn’t think I would become an activist or organizer, as I am now, but the seed really did get planted at NCC.” 
After graduating NCC, Codognolla earned a degree in political science at the University of Connecticut at Stamford in 2013. 

For the past few years, he has advocated for the DREAM Act “to give undocumented youth that fit criteria some relief from deportation and a work permit” and has helped high school students learn about the educational resources open to them. 

Codognolla said that thanks to the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, he himself can now legally work, get a driver’s license and social security number.

“For undocumented students, especially youth, being in a country where the media makes immigration very politicized, it becomes an identity issue,” Codognolla says. “For me, I went through a very difficult time when I found out I was undocumented.” 

He is looking forward to attending the State of the Union as the special guest of Rep. Himes.

“We are walking together to the Capitol to attend the address,” he said.

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