Friday Knight Alumni Spotlight
Tell us about yourself. Where you live now, career, and/or family news. What have you been up to since you left Geneseo?
After graduating with my B.S. in biology, I began work toward my Master's in biology at Geneseo. I then worked as a clinical/research tech at the University of Rochester Medical Center's Infectious Disease Unit, doing research for the AIDS Clinical Trials Group and the AIDS Vaccine Evaluation Unit.
After about 12 years, I sought a career change and used the U of R employee tuition waiver to earn a Master's in Secondary Science Education. I've been teaching biology for almost 20 years, and am currently teaching at Le Roy Jr-Sr High School. Last year I was accepted into the NYS Master Teacher Program.
I have also kept active with my fraternity, Alpha Chi Rho. I served as the alum president for about ten years. I'm also active with AXP at the national level, having served as National Ritual Officer from 95-98 and currently serving as National Scholarship Officer and as a trustee of the Alpha Chi Rho Educational Foundation.
I have two sons, Raymond (age 21) and Xander (age 16). Raymond is a senior at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he is a 2D animation major. Xander is currently a junior at Geneseo High School.
I never left Geneseo, choosing to buy a home in the village and raise my kids here. We love it here. My wife Nanette and I got married in Geneseo in 2012 and chose to have some of our engagement photos and wedding photos at the Gazebo and around Sturges. It was St. Patrick's Day, and even though western NY in mid-March is usually cold and wet, it was 80 degrees and beautiful.
What motivates you to work hard?
My parents are great role models. Some of my earliest memories are of my dad coming home exhausted after working a shift as a cab driver after his job as a loan collection agent for Grant's department store. Later, he became a NYS corrections officer, and I remember him working double shifts and holidays to make sure we could move into our own house and later on, make sure that my brother and I could go to college. When I've spoken with my dad about remembering his sacrifices and how hard he worked, he always just shrugs and humbly says (in his Yonkers Italian-American accent) "When you've got a family, you just do what ya gotta do."
What trait do you like most about yourself?
My sense of humor. My mom's dad was from Manchester UK, and she and my grandfather made sure that my brother and I got a steady diet of Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, Dave Allen at Large, etc. Dry wit and sarcasm are big in my family.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My parents. After them, those I admire include Marcus Aurelius, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Malcolm X, Rosalind Franklin
What are you passionate about?
My family. My Italian heritage. Science. Alpha Chi Rho.
Are you related or distantly related to anyone famous?
No, but I did go to high school with Mike Tyson. He was two grades below me at Catskill High School. The only time we really ever interacted was when I was in college and working a summer job back home at Cumberland Farms. He and his entourage pulled up in a limo, came into the store, and he bought some Lowenbrau. So my "brush with fame" was selling Mike Tyson a twelve pack of beer.
If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to and why?
I'd go back to mid-80s Geneseo. The Vital, GJs, IB, Waldo's, Augies, the Palace, Club 41, Kelly's, and the Idle. The live music scene was amazing: Miche and the Anglos, the Hogs, my friend Joe Fornieri's bands (Anarchy, The Stand), Rhye, Dark Heart Alarm. The Phi Lamb Derby, Arethusa Smoker, Orchard Street block party, and of course AXP's Friday the 13th and Flyday parties. The explosion of the Greek community, which was very visible and fairly harmonious.
What kitchen appliance do you use every day?
Coffee maker. I wasn't always a coffee drinker, but once I became a teacher, I found coffee to be indispensable to my proper functioning.
Who is your favorite author?
In fiction, James S.A. Corey (which is actually a pen name for two authors, Dan Abraham and Ty Franck). He (they?) write the "Expanse" series of books, which are not only great, but also provide the source material for the outstanding TV series.
In nonfiction, Ryan Holiday. His "The Obstacle Is The Way" has meant so much in helping me get in the right frame of mind to face challenges and adversity, and it was my introduction to Marcus Aurelius.
What was your favorite class or professor at Geneseo?
Bill Cook. A fraternity brother of mine who was a history major told me that even though I was a bio major, I absolutely could not leave Geneseo without taking at least one class with Dr. Cook. So, I took "The Bible" with Cook and loved it. Then I took 'The High Middle Ages" with him and loved that as well. He was proof that lectures need not be boring....he painted pictures and immersed his students into the worlds he discussed - the cultures, the conflicts, the people. I still have my books and lecture notes from my classes with him 30+ years later. I got to know him outside of class - he took pity on me when he heard I was low on funds and paid me to weed and tend his gardens, and later on he agreed to serve as advisor to Alpha Chi Rho while I was a grad student and the fraternity's alum president.