Today the University joins the world in remembering the 20 children and six adults who were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. on December 14, 2012. This heartbreaking event had a direct and lingering impact on the University of Hartford community.
Among the adults who lost their lives that day was Rachel D’Avino ‘07, a behavioral therapist who earned a BA in psychology from the University of Hartford. Two other alumni—Jimmy Greene '97 and Nelba Marquez-Greene ’97—lost their six-year-old daughter Ana Grace Marquez-Greene.
There are tributes to both Rachel and Ana Grace on campus. Rachel is remembered as a diligent and caring student who enjoyed visiting with friends and faculty in front of East Hall between her classes so a bench in front of East Hall is dedicated to her. The plaque on the bench includes the phrase “There is a hero in all of us.”
Ana Grace is remembered as a smart, vibrant young girl who showed a talent for singing before she could talk. The on-campus tribute to Ana Grace and her surviving brother, Isaiah, is a white inscribed stone that can be seen in the water garden between the Harry Jack Gray Center and The Hartt School.
The aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting brought President Barack Obama to campus in April, 2013 to deliver a high-profile speech on gun control. It marked the first time in our history that the University has welcomed a sitting president to campus.
In 2016, The Hartt School awarded its Alumni Award to Jimmy Greene, BMus ’97. A native of Hartford, Greene is considered one of the most respected saxophonists of his generation. In that year, he released his first album since the tragedy “Beautiful Life” in tribute and dedication to his daughter. The album was nominated for two Grammys.