DENT TO NCC GRADUATES
To hear Charlie Dent tell it, his father gave him some great advice when he was a young man about to enter college.
“My father thought I should study one of three things – science, medicine or engineering,” he told an audience gathered Jan. 26 for the 2019 winter commencement at Northampton Community College. “I went to Penn State and started out studying industrial engineering, but I decided to switch majors to political science.”
With a slight pause and a mischievous grin, Dent told the audience about how he informed his father about his new career path.
“I told him it was a science,” he noted. “My father said, well, science, sure that’s good. Then I told him it was political science and he replied, “that’s not what I meant!”
The younger Dent knew well a career in political science was not what his father meant, but by all accounts the decision worked out just fine.
“I guess I’m not the black sheep of the family,” Dent joked a few minutes later.
Dent’s name is familiar to almost everyone in the Lehigh Valley. The Republican represented the 15th Congressional District from 2005 through May 12 of last year when he formally resigned his seat. The Allentown native’s political career began in 1990 when he went door-to-door in Allentown attempting to win Pennsylvania’s 132nd House seat. His attentive ear, congenial style and middle-of-the-road pragmatism launched a 14-year career in Harrisburg – the first eight in the House and remaining six as a senator representing the 16th District.
The 58-year-old told the 594 NCC graduates, ranging in age from 16 to 72, the story about his father’s advice for a reason.
“It was very good advice,” Dent told them. “We need people to build things. But it wasn’t good advice for me. That’s what I want you to know. Your parents mean well for you, but sometimes what they want isn’t what you want.”
Instead of pragmatism in selecting career pursuits, Dent suggested another tack.
“Be passionate about what you do,” he said. “Life is much more enriching if you pursue your passion.”
Even though his time power-brokering deal in the halls of the Rotunda has ended, Dent still is a political commodity. Last year Dent joined the Cable News Network as a contributor, where he offers his political opinions.
“Charlie has always been a centrist voice of reason,” said Mark Erickson, president of Northampton Community College, during Dent’s introduction. “...We could use you in Washington right now.”
During his commencement address, the former congressman commented on the current political climate.
“Who would have imagined that we would question our involvement in NATO,” he said. “Or in the role of the press?”