Rita Moreno, 92, Wows at NEIT Graduation

by | May 6, 2024

Above: NEIT President Richard Gouse with commencement speaker Rita Moreno. (Photo/Joe Giblin)

When a 92-year-old legend tells you to keep dreaming – even breaks into an old Everly Brothers tune – you can’t help but listen. Actor Rita Moreno delivered the commencement address at the New England School of Technology graduation Sunday (5/5/24), and she brought along her characteristic spunk.

“I have learned that many of you are the first in your family to enroll in college and are graduating today. Others of you care for your family, you hold jobs, while retooling for your technical or professional education. Bravo. Bravo e bravo,” she said. “What do you do when graduation doesn’t result in immediate opportunity? Well I’ll tell you what I did – you improvise, and you wait. You do what you have to do but you don’t give up on your dream.”

Moreno made her Broadway debut when she was 13. Her early work included roles in the classic musical films Singin’ in the Rain and The King and I, before her breakout role as Anita in West Side Story, which earned her the Oscar for best supporting actress. That didn’t open every door, however – she faced plenty of discrimination. But she kept working. More recently, she starred in the movie 80 for Brady and co-starred and served as an executive producer in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, among other roles.

Throughout her career, Moreno has also been an outspoken advocate for social justice. She has championed causes ranging from racial and gender equality to education, the environment and health care. She attended the March on Washington when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his I Have a Dream speech and has been a staunch supporter of the women’s movement calling it “one of the best things that’s ever happened to this country.”

Moreno received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during New England Tech’s May 5 commencement at the Amica Mutual Pavilion (aka the Dunk) in Providence.

Also Sunday, General Dynamics Electric Boat President Kevin Graney was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, in recognition of Electric Boat’s long collaboration with NEIT. With Graney at the helm, Electric Boat is experiencing a once in a generation expansion, hiring thousands of people to build the submarines that serve as a first line of defense for the United States. With a focus on teamwork, he is known for uncompromising dedication to quality and safety.

New England Tech works closely with Graney to train entry level welders, shipfitters, machinists, and production planners for jobs at Electric Boat through the university’s Shipbuilding and Advanced Manufacturing Institute (SAMI). NEIT’s relationship with General Dynamics spans 30 years and has included numerous training programs both in classrooms and on the manufacturing floor at Electric Boat. A shift in federal defense strategy has increased the demand for submarines. To meet the challenge Graney filled 5,300 jobs last year and will work to fill another 5,000 in the coming year, including 1,900 at the Rhode Island shipyard at Quonset Point.

Among the graduates Sunday were these four from East Greenwich:

James Buchanan, AS

Lucas Porter, BS

Lindsey Sousa, BS

Connor Thurman, AS

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Renu Englehart
Renu Englehart
May 7, 2024 9:21 am

NEIT is an asset to EG and my youngest son graduated from there. He was not 4 yr college bound and struggled in high school. He rec’d his automotive degree and was fully employed by 21 yrs old. My husband and I are grateful that other opportunities exist outside of traditional 4 yr college. Tradespeople are sorely needed.


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