HCC graduates 387 students in Bridgeport

MICHAEL P. MAYKO mmayko@ctpost.com
Article Last Updated: 05/31/2007 11:58:00 PM EDT

Louise A. Lisboa

Louise A. Lisboa resembles most 16-year-olds. She wears braces. She talks on a cell phone. She spends a lot of time on her computer. But unlike most 16-year-olds, Lisboa finished her first two years of college Thursday night.

The teenage Stratford resident was one of 387 students who received associate degrees during Housatonic Community College's 40th commencement in the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. Lisboa was joined by graduates such as Patricia and Kathleen Kurowski, a mother and daughter from Brooks Street, Bridgeport, and Janet Uhlig, a Shelton resident who leaves with a perfect 4.0 average in early childhood special education as well as the most awards given any student Thursday night.

They heard Lowell P. Weicker Jr., the former Greenwich first selectman, congressman, senator and governor, implore them to "set aright a screwed-up world."

Weicker, who pushed for the relocation of Housatonic from the decaying Singer Factory on Barnum Avenue to what was once the site of the Lafayette Boulevard mall, told them he was "mad as hell with the world around you."

He beseeched them to do something about "violence home and abroad" and "the lives lost" in Iraq, in the country's housing projects and due to Hurricane Katrina and poverty.

"These are the targets that need to be juxtaposed," said the one-term governor best known for bringing a state income tax to Connecticut.

Lisboa, who is the daughter of immigrants from India, has a running start on the former governor's request. In June she begins work in Washington as a Republican page, according to her mother, Mohini Monteiro, who uses her maiden name. Later in the summer, she will enter a four-week pre-law program at Northern Illinois University.

In the fall, she'll become a full-time student at the University of Bridgeport, which her mother said offered the best financial package.

"She is still only 16," said her mother. "We felt it better she stay close to home and not incur a lot of debt from college loans. She's a very good student — she studies three hours a night — she'll have the opportunity to go on for her master's degree."

Lisboa attended the Six to Six Magnet School here for her elementary education and then entered Harding High School's Regional Health Magnet program, from which she graduated in three years.

While attending high school, Lisboa served as president of her freshman and sophomore class and also served as vice president of the Student Council, her mother said. "At that time, I wanted to pursue a career in medicine but I later decided that wasn't for me," Lisboa said. Now the teenager said she is focusing on political science and law school.

Lisboa has completed an internship in the office of U.S. Rep. Christopher Shay, R-4, attended the presidential classroom in Washington and worked as a research assistant in St. Vincent's Medical Center's emergency room.

She is employed as a teller at People's Bank downtown.

As a high school sophomore, she began taking night classes with her father, Joseph Lisboa, at Housatonic Community College.

"It was interesting," the teenager said. "All of my classmates were much older so it gave me a lot of diverse points of views. Some treated me as a child but most treated me as a fellow student."

Pat and Kathleen Kurowski

"We are immigrants and we place a high value on education," said Monteiro, who has a master's degree in communication and works at Oxford Health Plan in Trumbull.

While Lisboa is only 16, Patricia Kurowski is 55 and received her second associate degree from Housatonic, this time in business administration.

Kurowski, who works in the school's purchasing department, had the privilege of graduating with her 26-year-old daughter, Kathleen, who hopes to pursue a criminal justice career with a state or federal probation department (photo right0.

"My mother convinced me to go back to school," said Kathleen Kurowski, an employee of RBS in Bridgeport.

"I'm proud of my mother's achievements — she's graduating with high honors," Kathleen Kurowski said. "Her hard work was an inspiration to me."

Kathleen Kurowski said she will continue her education at Charter Oak College this fall.

Meanwhile her mother also is not finished with school just yet.

"I'm going to continue to go to class at Housatonic and get certificates in areas that I enjoy," she said. "I like scrapbooking, so I am going to pursue a certificate in graphic design, photography and maybe even computer repair."