Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The DaVinci Society Dinner

As I mentioned in my previous post about the Grace Foundation's Carnival, I had the privilege of meeting the Honorable Ralph Lamberti, our former Borough President. My mom and I were then invited by him to The DaVinci Society Annual Scholarship Dinner, which was held on September 20th at the Hilton Garden Inn. The DaVinci Society, which was extablished in 2000 by Wagner College, promotes "a greater understanding of Italy and Italian-American contributions to America's vibrant democratic culture." They annually sponsor the "Adopt-A-Scholar" award -- a $60,000 four-year scholarship. The society is co-chaired by the Honorable Ralph J. Lamberti and Dr. Richard Guarasci, President of Wagner College.
As a full-Italian young woman and a Wagner College senior, it was special to me to be asked to attend. The Hilton's Ballroom was packed with 400 guests and we were seated at a table with familiar faces: Susan Falcone and Eleanor Conforti, Dinner Chairperson (both of whom are my cousins!) Eleanor began the ceremony and I was announced to the stage to lead the pledge. Once I finished, she bragged to the room (as she usually does), "That's my cousin! Don't you see the resemblance?" : ]

Dr. Guarasci then spoke. He began with, "Jamie is also a student at Wagner College and I had the pleasure of having her in one of my classes. She is not only beautiful, but very smart, too. We are proud to have her represent us." Well, thank you President Guarasci! He then continued on to his welcome and I was glad because my face must have been bright red at that point.

Congratulations to the night's honorees - Chief Gerard A. Barbara (posthumously), Michael M. Menicucci, Esq., Fran Liggio Meyers, and Fran Reali - to the recipient of the Renaissance Award - Kathryn Krause Rooney - and to the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient - Dr. Louis Gianvito. The night also included guest speaker, Tom Santopietro, who wrote The Godfather Effect: Changing Hollywood, America, and Me. He was funny, insightful, and perfectly described the Italian way of life.
During dinner, I walked around to meet the guests. I spoke with the honorees, their families, and supporters. I also saw more people I recognized! After interning at the Hilton this summer in the Marketing Department, I met many of the staff members who were in attendance. It was nice to see them and my supervisor, Susan Anderson, again. I even saw my driver for this year's parades, Len Bosso. He's everywhere! : ]
Thank you Mr. Lamberti for inviting both me and my mother to attend this event as your guests. It was a wonderful night filled with inspiring stories and people. It is great what this society does for Italian students like me. Thank you for all that you, Dr. Guarasci, and the rest of the DaVinci Society do to keep our culture alive.

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