Maura Healey visits UMass campus

Massachusetts democratic gubernatorial nominee Maura Healey toured the UMass Transportation Center and played with the women’s basketball team on Thursday

Sophie+Hauck+%2F+Daily+Collegian

Sophie Hauck / Daily Collegian

By Sophie Hauck, Collegian Staff

You can also find this article on The Collegian News Hour pocast:

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Maura Healey made a stop on her campaign trail to the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus on Thursday. She spent the visit learning about research at the UMass Transportation Center and shooting hoops with the women’s basketball team.

Healey’s campus tour was one leg of her visit to the Pioneer Valley, where she toured local businesses in Northampton and hosted a meet and greet in Amherst Center. State auditor candidate Diana DiZoglio joined Healey for the trip, as well as members of the local delegation, including State Senator Jo Comerford and State Representative Mindy Domb.

“I care a lot about our University of Massachusetts system, and all of our public colleges and universities,” Healey said. “I think the way you show that you value that is by making those investments.”

College of Engineering Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Affairs Michael Knodler led Healey on a tour of the Transportation Center. He presented a piece of LiDAR technology, which creates 3D images of its surroundings and is designed to map the wheelchair accessibility of sidewalks. Assistant professor Chengbo Ai, who developed this technology through the support of a state-funded innovation grant, gathered Healey and a team of graduate students for a 3D group photo.

Healey also went for a ride in the Human Performance Lab, where researchers developed a stationary vehicle to simulate the hazards of unsafe driving patterns. She commented afterwards that the next governor must “support the funding” of these engineering projects.

Graduate student Angelina Caggiano was one of five students who joined Healey for the tour, saying that “there’s never too much funding” when it comes to engineering research.

“I’m very fortunate that I’ve received funding throughout my education and that we are in such a well-funded industry compared to others,” said Caggiano, who is pursuing her masters in transportation engineering. “It is the state’s job that if they want to see changes, they’re investing in it.”

Healey hopped onto a Pioneer Valley Transit Authority bus after her tour, heading to the John Francis Kennedy Champions Center for a conversation with the UMass women’s basketball team. On the court, Healey moved away from policy, recounting the years she played professional basketball in Europe and celebrating the accomplishments of the Atlantic 10 champion team.

“I never would have been in the position that I’m in today were it not for my athletic career,” Healey said. “You learn a lot about discipline, you learn a lot about hard work, you learn a lot about what it means to fail and get up and get after it again.”

“Hearing that perspective from someone so successful obviously helps knowing she started in our shoes,” said team co-captain Sam Breen, who hopes to play overseas like Healey.

After a huddled conversation with the team, Healey played a game of HORSE with high-scoring guard Sydney Taylor. Healey came up short but acknowledged her pride in the team.

“I look forward to cheering you on,” Healey said, making plans to attend a game this season.

“You guys will have a huge advantage in life because automatically you’re going to have a confidence and a self-esteem,” Healey said to the players. “Trust me, we all have imposter syndrome at different times… I had a debate last night, and I was feeling it.”

Healey debated Republican gubernatorial nominee Geoff Diehl. In a September Suffolk University/Boston Globe/NBC10 Boston/Telemundo poll of likely midterm voters, Healey led Diehl 52 percent to 26 percent, with a 4.4 percentage point margin of error.

The candidates will face off on Tuesday, Nov. 8, when Massachusetts voters will also take their pick for statewide offices and vote on a variety of ballot questions. There are four ballot questions this election, the first of which asks voters whether they support an income-based tax increase to fund public transportation and education.

Healey touched on the issue of college affordability as well, noting that she has always been committed to making higher education accessible.

“I’ve spent a lot of time as attorney general going after some of the shady for-profit schools that were raking it in on the backs of student borrowers,” Healey said.

“I know firsthand the importance of investing in public higher ed, and I plan to do just that as governor.”

Sophie Hauck can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @SophieBHauck.