Fall 2013

Santalucia family counts three generations of alumni

Santalucia family counts three generations of alumni
Jonathan Cohen
The Santalucias — Nicole, Leonard and Joseph (below) — all attended Binghamton.

Sixty-seven years ago, Joseph Santalucia finished his stint in the U.S. Navy and used the G.I. Bill to enroll in his hometown’s brand-new school, Triple Cities College. He graduated in 1950 from the school, renamed Harpur College, and taught fifth grade for 41 years.

His is a typical story, except for this: Two of his sons and one granddaughter also are Binghamton graduates. That makes the Santalucias one of a handful of families with three generations of Binghamton graduates.

Joseph’s sons Daniel and Leonard graduated with business degrees; Leonard in 1974. Len’s daughter, Nicole ’02, is pursuing her PhD in English/creative writing. Both, in their own way, are following in their father’s footsteps.

“He went there, I went there. Life was simple back then,” Len says. “I learned about the value of this school when I started working. If I mentioned I went to Binghamton University, all of a sudden I had all this respect.”

Len spent nearly 30 years at IBM. Although he moved to New York City about a decade ago, he remains active in his hometown and at the University, helping to create the Linux Technology Center and working with the Southern Tier Opportunity Coalition, an economic/academic partnership.

After earning her undergraduate English degree, Nicole joined Vicom Infinity. Because Vicom is a business partner with IBM, the two Santalucias would sometimes work together.

“It was neat; we’ve gone on business trips and to conferences together,” Nicole says. “He’d be there for IBM, and I’d be there for Vicom. Sometimes he’d be one of the presenters, and I’d be sitting in the back row, waiting to be called out: ‘By the way, my daughter’s here.’”

Len is now CTO for Vicom Infinity.

Nicole says her intention was to follow her father by learning Linux and selling IBM mainframes. But poetry pulled her away.

She earned her MFA in 2008. Soon after, she was helping care for her grandfather, Joseph, who was in the final stages of brain cancer.

“During my visits with my grandfather we talked about his teaching career and what it means to follow your passion,” she says. “I had applied for a teaching job at Berkley College and had kind of forgotten about it. Less than a week after he died, I was called for an interview. I couldn’t help but think that my grandfather was passing the teaching torch to me.”

Now she is studying with English Professor Maria Mazziotti Gillan and, for the past three years, has directed the Binghamton Poetry Project, which runs community workshops and publishes an anthology. It’s a project that combines her business acumen, creative drive and community spirit.

“I wanted to live as a poet at heart and an educator; I realized that I would be walking in both my father’s and grandfather’s shoes as they are both educators and creative thinkers who always found ways to give back to their hometown.”