In April 2020, shortly after COVID-19 had started to grip the world, Dr. Sharon DeVivo, President of Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, sat in her dining room and recorded a video message for her students.
“Welcome to my house,” she began, “I’m sure many of you are going a little stir-crazy, as am I, but I’m so proud of the Vaughn community, especially in terms of your resilience and ability to bend and move with these times.”
Neither DeVivo, her staff, or the students could have known then that the pandemic was just getting started, and that it would change nearly every aspect of life, in college or otherwise. But for any college president in charge of thousands of students — many residing on campus — COVID-19 had already presented a test like no other.
DeVivo’s commitment to caring well for its community in all aspects of the higher education journey hasn’t wavered despite the unprecedented circumstances. During her tenure, in fact, the Flushing, New York-based college was recognized as #1 in the nation for upward mobility in a study by The Equality of Opportunity Project. The study noted the college as “an institution doing more to impact social mobility for those who start from less fortunate means,” and listed Vaughn as the top institution for moving students from the bottom 40% to the top 40% of income.