Nicholas Alahverdian,

Speech by Nicholas Alahverdian on Education | Rhode Island Senate | March 29, 2011

Introduction of Nicholas Alahverdian by Sen. Josh Miller

Nicholas Alahverdian is the Director of Policy and Research at NexusGovernment. A Providence native, he has been involved in Rhode Island government and public policy formation since 2002, working as a General Assembly page, legislative aide, policy analyst, and later as a campaign and community organizer, campaign strategist, and legislative researcher. A registered lobbyist for eight non-consecutive legislative sessions, Nicholas has had affiliations with various community organizations. He is currently a student at Harvard University where he concentrates in comparative literature, government, and political science.

Speech to Members of the Rhode Island Senate

My journey has taken me from the halls of the State House to sad excuses for homes, to where I stand before you today. As an advocate for DCYF reform juxtaposed with my status as a Harvard undergraduate, which I do not take lightly, I’ve shaken the hands of some of the most influential and inspiring people on the planet today.

These same hands were once literally tied behind my back for trying to call back home to Rhode Island as an abused orphan. I once lived with people who considered hope to be a sign of weakness, now, I stand proudly, hand in hand with those who breathe it. I have tirelessly fought for my rights, your rights, and the rights of every Rhode Islander.

Take a moment to reflect on the hundreds of Rhode Island children in group homes and foster homes. Picture hundreds of kids without a classroom. without extra-curricular activities. Kids who were removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect mixed with kids just released from the Training School while they served time for robbery, assault and other crimes. Picture the inexperienced staff who supervise these kids, yelling, screaming, hitting, kicking, and punching. Collectively, these group homes and treatment facilities create a sinking ship. The administration of RI DCYF is at the mast. There are very few lifeboats, and time is running out.

Five years ago, I cried for help, like many of these youngsters are doing today. While I was beaten on a near daily basis, the anchor that is our sacred state seal was indelibly etched upon my mind. I refused to let go. I refused to accept defeat. I knew there would be an end.

I sat in a facility that was worse than a prison. Hundreds of miles away from home, surrounded by holes in the walls, screaming kids, gang-affiliated staff persons, broken ceiling tiles, and cracked glass scattered about. The owners of this for-profit, NASDAQ-listed corporation reaped in profits while I was tortured, raped, and nearly beaten to death.

While i was in Florida, only one set of my letters was sent out – to colleges that I wanted to apply to. And when the colleges replied back, I witnessed these insidious, irrational people take the correspondence and college viewbooks and keep them in a box, claiming that they were not part of my “treatment plan.” Five years later, I now understand what they meant. They wanted to eliminate my access to education. Why? Because knowledge is power.

Unfortunately, the remainder of this speech is lost.