Community leaders will be Dancing for Degrees at the College

Local community leaders will trip the light fantastic during a dancing competition sponsored in part by Connecticut College’s Office of Volunteers for Community Service (OVCS) and benefiting Higher Edge, a New London-based nonprofit that guides low-income and first-generation students through enrollment, retention and graduation from college. The event is Saturday, Nov. 22, at 6 p.m. in the 1962 Room of the College Center at Crozier-Williams.

Each community leader has been partnered with a local high school or college student participating in the Higher Edge program. Dancers include Tanya Collins, a teacher in the New London Public School system; Daryl Justin Finizio, the mayor of New London; Susan Jones, principal of Hoyt, Filippetti & Malaghan; Anthony Nolan, New London city councilor and police officer; Steve Sigel, executive director of the Garde Arts Center; and Dr. Claire Warren, director of the Plainfield Walk-In Medical Center.

Student dancers are Pabel Pascual and Naseef McCray, seniors at New London High School; Najé Maria Ramos, a first-year student at Three Rivers Community College; Rafael Perez, a sophomore at the University of Connecticut; Damoya Nelson, a senior at the Science & Technology High School; and Angie Marrero, a senior at Fitch High School.

The partners have been working on their choreography and moves under the guidance of local dance instructor/Eastern Connecticut State University student Leopoldo Navarro, and their performances will be judged by a three-member panel that includes Connecticut College Associate Professor of Dance Rosemarie Roberts. The evening also includes gourmet hors d'oeuvres, basket raffles, a silent auction and dancing for all after the competition.

OVCS works with Higher Edge to create internships, community learning placements and community service work-study positions for Connecticut College students, and the two organizations have also created a college experience program for 40 high school seniors in the Higher Edge program. These students stay on the Connecticut College campus for three days, attending workshops and other activities, some of which are facilitated with OVCS staff and students.

“Higher Edge is a vibrant New London organization expanding educational opportunities and success for the high school and college students enrolled in its programs,” said Tracee Reiser, the director of OVCS as well as associate dean for community learning and associate director of the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy. “Connecticut College is pleased to partner with Higher Edge to advance that mission. At the same time, we work together to create educational and professional opportunities for Connecticut College students during the academic year and beyond. And Higher Edge is proud to have Connecticut College alumna Amanda Klay ’13 as a valued member of its team.”

Tickets are $20 and are available at Muddy Waters Cafe or online at For more information, contact Reiser at or Chris Soto, the director of Higher Edge, at

November 19, 2014