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Gillibrand pays visit to Westbury High School

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand speaks to a Westbury High

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand speaks to a Westbury High School student, Nia Stevens, 17, who is a part of MSG Varsity. (March 19, 2010) Photo Credit: Photo by Ed Betz

Nia Stevens, a Westbury High School senior, confessed to being a little nervous about interviewing Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who visited the high school Friday for a Women's History Month program.

While assorted school officials, local political leaders, and others looked on, Stevens, 17, betrayed few jitters as she stood before the camera operated by a classmate and asked the senator to choose one woman of history she most admired.

Gillibrand named Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton "for a lot of reasons."

"One is that when she was first lady she gave a speech in Beijing, China, saying 'women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights,' " Gillibrand said.

And, she said, Clinton's campaign for president had "inspired young women and girls all across the world."

Gillibrand's appearance at the high school was sponsored by Cablevision's "Power to Learn," a community service project that uses all of Cablevision's entertainment and technology resources to improve education. As part of that, MSG Varsity is teaching faculty and students about television production and showing their stories on MSG Varsity. "We are in 5,000 schools, including 600 with MSG Varsity," in the metropolitan area, said Trent Anderson, Cablevision's vice president for education for Power to Learn. Cablevision, Newsday's parent company, also gave the school $2,500 to further its African-American and Latino Studies program.

In her speech to the students, Gillibrand, who is running for re-election, praised the contributions of other women "trailblazers" from New York in addition to Clinton: former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, former congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, and Sojourner Truth, who was born a slave in upstate Ulster County in 1797 and who linked the abolition of slavery to women's rights.

"None of these women was content to sit back and be silent," Gillibrand said. She urged the students to find an issue they care about and "fight for it with every fiber of your being."

Amber Johnson, 17, a senior, said studying women who helped bring about great change and hearing from Gillibrand "helps me know I can do better."

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