Pontiac native returns home as Harvard President to inspire local students

PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) - The current president of Harvard University, Lawrence Bacow, visited The International Technology Academy in Pontiac to see students work and talk about higher education. 

Bacow is a Pontiac native who graduated from Pontiac Central High School. 

“This is the first trip as president of Harvard and once I was named I said I wanted to come home,” Bacow said. “Back to Pontiac and back to Detroit where it all began for me.”

Bacow toured the school’s robotics lab, talking with students about their current studies. 

One student, Dakota Passage, said it helped him dream big seeing a Pontiac native in such a prestigious position. 

“I think a lot of people want to go to Harvard and just to hear the president come here and he’s as local,” Passage said. “It really takes away that veil to where it’s this very idealistic thing that probably won’t happen. It makes it a realistic goal that could actually happen.”

Teachers like Josh Kozlowski remarked on how students have been inspired by the visit

“I think it’s so great for students to see people that are so successful in their lives coming back and saying I’m from the same street or the same zip code,” Kozlowski. “I think the power of that to motivate students, I mean that’s the difference in dreaming ten feet in front of them or dreaming ten miles in front of them.

Bacow also held an assembly with approximately 100 students where they could ask him questions. He ended with a strong message. 

“Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t pursue your dreams,” Bacow said. “You can do anything you want to do and if anyone tells you, you can’t, just tell them the president of Harvard told you otherwise.”

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