Retiring Rep. Roberta Willis (right) gets a hug from Rep. Cathy Abercrombie after the House voted to rename a scholarship in her honor.
Retiring Rep. Roberta Willis, right, gets a hug from Rep. Cathy Abercrombie after the House voted to rename a scholarship in her honor.
Retiring Rep. Roberta Willis, right, gets a hug from Rep. Cathy Abercrombie after the House voted to rename a scholarship in her honor. CTMirror.org

The state House of Representatives tipped its collective hat Saturday to Rep. Roberta B. Willis, D-Salisbury, voting to rename a scholarship program after the retiring lawmaker.

The House unanimously approved a measure that renames the Governor’s Scholarship Program in Willis’ honor. It now heads to the Senate.

The longtime co-chair of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee, Willis is not seeking re-election this November after 16 years in the General Assembly.

“For as long as I have been here, Roberta has fought for kids to have access to higher education and she’s done so with logic and grace,” Rep. Toni E. Walker, D-New Haven, said.

“It was suitable and fitting,” House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said. “She’s been a tireless advocate for higher education in this state.”

A tearful Willis tried to deflect her colleagues’ praise amid hugs after the vote.

“I’m really speechless,” she said, adding that when it comes to fighting to make higher education accessible to all, “I don’t feel like it’s just me. It’s everybody.”

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Keith M. PhaneufState Budget Reporter

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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