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UC Family Adds to Ranks as Mom, Son Graduate Together on June 12

Corina Bizzarri, a financial administrator in UC's Communication Department, will receive her degree on June 12, the same day that her son Alfred is awarded his degree. One other sibling is already a UC graduate, with one more currently a sophomore at UC.

Date: 6/7/2010 12:00:00 AM
By: Carey Hoffman
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Photos By: Ashley Kempher

UC ingot   A decade after deciding to go back to school part-time, Corina Bizzarri will receive her degree from UC on June 12, and she’ll have company – son Alfred Bizzarri will also be among the graduates marching that day.

In fact, the Bizzarri family of West Chester is in the midst of developing quite a UC legacy. The family’s oldest child, Julia, graduated earlier this decade with a degree in interior design, while their youngest, Michael, is currently completing his sophomore year as an Asian Studies major.
Corina Bizzarri and Alfred Bizzarri
Co-workers in UC's Communication department decorated Corina Bizzarri's office, in honor of her graduation. She will be marching alongside her son, Alfred.

Corina also works as a financial analyst in the Communication department in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences. And, while it's not unusual for UC employees to have their kids attend UC through the tuition remission benefit, that wasn't quite the sequence of events for the Bizarri family.

When Julia began attending UC, Corina found herself with the bug to finish work on a degree she had started work on at Pace University after graduating high school.

"I had two-to-three years of work left to complete," she recalls. "At the time, I was undaunted by that. It didn't seem huge. But I was working part-time then, and when I became full-time, it was more of a struggle. But my family kept saying, 'You have to keep going, you have to keep going.' "

The biggest twist in Corina's experience is that, at the time she decided to enroll at UC, her part-time work was outside the university. Her first experience working at UC came as a student employee in the A&S college office. "I ran into someone who told me about the (student worker) job," she recalls. "I was finding the running around and working a part-time job off campus was getting to be too much. It worked much better to be here on campus."

It wasn't until 2003 that she landed her full-time position in the Communication office. Working full-time, she was taking one class a quarter, slowly making progress on her degree.

Corina changed her academic focus, as well. Her earlier major at Pace had been in psychology, but at UC, she found a better fit as an anthropology major. "I've been interested in archaeology my whole life, it was an amateur avocation," she says. "If I hadn't taken a sidetrack in life (of marriage and starting a family), I probably would have pursued that."

Now, she's not completely sure what she'll do with her degree. It's possible, after she catches her breath by taking some time off, she'll consider going after her master's degree. She might also put the degree to work in the future in conjunction with her husband, Michael, a professional videographer with his own firm called West Chester Video.

"I'd be interested in doing something on the culture of work," Corina says. "In conjunction, I always thought it would be interesting to work with my husband. There are a lot of uses for film in anthropology. We've talked about doing something like that for many years since we first met, and now that we're older and I'm going to have some extra time, we have the knowledge to know we can apply for grants."

Corina also happily plans to continue on with her work in the Communication department. "I love my job. I have no intention of leaving it," she says. "They were very encouraging throughout. If I needed to take a day off to study for an exam, they've always completely understood."

She will get the experience of marching with her son Alfred, who is earning his degree in Health Promotions from the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services. "We've watched her go through a lot, going to classes, buying books, the same things that I was doing," Alfred says of his mom. "I think reaching this accomplishment has made her very proud and happy."

Although a New Jersey native, Corina has come to love UC. "We're very happy here and have no desire to go anywhere else, and obviously, our family loves UC," she says.

"It's been a remarkable change in the time that I've been a student here. The physical changes on campus have really spearheaded having a much more involved student body on campus. Even when I started, it still had a commuter campus identity sometimes. Kids would go to classes and then leave, and now, they're really involved in everything here. Change has had a huge impact on the student body, and it's an exciting time."