Robert Cotto, Jr: You Have To Remember To Come Back For Others

Screen shot 2014-05-01 at 5.27.55 PMTeaching at a magnet school in Bloomfield next to the fields where his grandparents came from Puerto Rico to pick tobacco, Robert Cotto, Jr., felt like he had come “full circle.”

Education to Cotto, 32, is the key and he has dedicated his career to ensuring others have the educational opportunities he has had.  He has worked as a public school teacher, a lead researcher at Connecticut Voices for Children, and as an adjunct professor. He also ran and was elected to the Hartford Board of Education four years ago.

This past month, he became the director of urban educational initiatives at Trinity College in Hartford. For Cotto, a Dartmouth, Trinity and Harvard graduate, his new role provides him with a perfect opportunity to give back and to make sure the Latino community is being served.

“When you leave you must remember to come back for the others,” Cotto said quoting from the book “The House on Mango Street.” This premise has been a mantra for him over the years.

Cotto said part of the reason he was brought to Trinity is to explore the needs of urban communities and then to help meet those needs by finding the best methods and partnerships to address them.  He also will work on improving communication with neighborhoods and its leaders and policy-makers. The goal being that everyone will be pulling in the same direction to meet objectives.

“I want folks to see Trinity College as a leading place for students and faculty to learn about urban education,” he said, “and to produce things that are informative, and positive, and respectful of communities. Particularly, the Latino community.”

Respect for Latinos is important to Cotto, considering he was not always given it.

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