Laura Bush visits Michiana
KOSCIUSKO COUNTY – Former first lady Laura Bush had a busy day in Northern Indiana, she had a few appearances in Kosciusko County on Thursday.
Bush flew in to the Warsaw Municipal Airport late in the afternoon, after the Fort Wayne bomb squad and secret service did a security sweep, Bush’s motorcade pulled into Ivy Tech’s new campus in Warsaw.
Miller Hall, a technology training center opened back in August, but Ivy Tech hosted a dedication and ribbon cutting for the new building on Thursday.
The ceremony started at 2:30, about a half hour later Laura Bush was escorted through the back entrance of a tent posted up next to a corn field on the west side of the parking lot.
“As we know, she does not need an introduction,” President of the Ivy Tech Community Colleges in Indiana, Thomas Snyder said as Bush made her way up to the stage.
The former first lady was greeted with a standing from nearly 400 people inside the tent. When she got up to the podium Bush joked, “There is something about getting here in just the nick of time...”
She literally got out of her car and walked up on to the stage, without time to meet many of the other people there, Bush thanked all of those who had helped get Ivy-Tech’s new campus up and open at the microphone.
“Ivy Techs new building helps make college level learning more accessible for people from this whole part of Indiana,” Bush said.
The former teacher and librarian has been a long-time advocate for education, Bush said,“I can’t imagine a happier than opening a new school building, I think that’s really terrific.”
Bush emphasized the importance of community colleges, “Community Colleges are crucial centers for education for people who have made the determination to improve their lot and their lives.”
Bush said the flexibility offered at schools like Ivy Tech give people of all different ages, backgrounds, and professions a chance to further their education and better their lives.
Teaching people new skills can improve the economy, “For the businesses here and in your region, but also around our country,” Bush said.
The cost for a higher education is increasing, but the importance of a degree is also growing. The former first lady said, “Community colleges are what really give us the chance in our country to have a skilled work force.”
Ivy Tech-Warsaw student Vanessa Uzubell is on track to graduate in May. She said listening to Laura Bush speak gave her a big boost of motivation as she enters the final stretch in her pursuit of an education.
“I couldn’t afford to go to a four year college,” Uzubell said. “So this was a great opportunity for me and a great experience to have.”
Uzubell said hearing a former first lady support her school and her education at a community college was reassuring and meant a lot to her.
“I can’t believe that she came here to Warsaw Indiana. I mean it’s a very small community,” Uzubell said. “It’s not Fort Wayne, it’s not South Bend and for her to be here it means a lot to everybody in the community.”
Bush’s remarks at the Ivy Tech-Warsaw dedication were brief; she was in and out within minutes. “Yea, how fast she came in and how fast she left, but she’s a busy lady,” Uzubell said.
“Congratulations and thank you for having me,” Bush said right before she made her way off stage and out to her car.
But that did not end her time in Kosciusko County, from there Bush met with a group of elementary students, then to Grace College.
The former first lady took the stage there, Orthopaedic Capital Center at 7:15. Laura Bush made a presentation to a sold-out audience, about four-thousand people on freedom and literacy.
After her speech Bush had a question and answer session with Grace College and Seminary Chief of Advancement John Boal.
The event ran until 8:15, filming of Laura Bush’s full presentation was not allowed.
The former first lady said she planned to fly home after the event, she opens the Laura Bush Middle School in Texas tomorrow.