When David DeCancio’s parents fled Cuba in 1962, they did so with the hope of finding freedom and opportunity.
They came to the United States with just a suitcase of clothes, barely speaking a word of English, and left behind all that they knew. His father worked three jobs to get by — roofing during the day, cleaning offices at night and working part-time in a print shop, which later became his trade. His mother volunteered at the school, later becoming a teacher's aide and then going on to start a teacher's aide union.
That family history now informs what DeCancio, himself, does. As the deputy director of communications and information services for the New York State Assembly, he strives to make this a better state, he said. And people are taking note of his efforts.
|Photo: David DeCancio on the floor of the the NYS Assembly Chamber.|
At 39, the 1993 SUNY Plattsburgh graduate and political science major was named one of the “Rising Stars: 40 Under 40” in The Capitol, a publication out of Albany. Recipients are said to be “Albany’s Next Generation of Political Leaders.”
“It’s very humbling to be recognized,” he said. “I never thought of myself in that way. … All that hard work over the years, trying to do my best, it’s paid off.”
That hard work started at SUNY Plattsburgh.
“At first, it was about affordability. That was a big thing for me,” he said. “I figured I’d study at Plattsburgh for two years and then transfer to St. Lawrence or Clarkson; but I kind of fell in love with Plattsburgh.”
Aside from meeting lifelong friends and enjoying the surroundings, DeCancio found his passion for politics after taking a course in national politics with Dr. Harvey Schantz.
“It just really connected with me,” he said. “He planted a bug and got me active. He talked me into an internship that I didn’t think I wanted to do. ‘This is how you’re going to get your foot in the door,’ he said. I listened to him in the end. I’m very thankful for that and I always will be. “
From that internship, where he worked with a state assemblyman, he was offered a job. Years later, he’s helping politicians better represent their constituents.
“It’s the most rewarding part of my job,” he said. “Every day there’s something new, a different challenge, a different opportunity. At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to know that I’ve helped to make this a better state and to make the community a better place for my children.”
DeCancio hopes to show his daughters, ages 6 and 9, why it’s important to be part of the political process. He has them take part in campaign mailers and volunteerism.
“I try to instill in them the idea that this is important; people need to vote and participate in their communities.”
That sense of pride comes from his parents and recognizing all they sacrificed to ensure he and his brother had opportunities.
“My parents always told my brother and me that life wasn't always fair but that, if you worked hard and got a good education, you could do anything you put your mind to,” he said. “My parents are my inspiration. They taught us the importance of doing what's right and giving back.”
— Michelle Besaw ’08
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