By Erin Walsh
Maria Pietrosanti '75
Maria Pietrosanti ’75 was destined to attend the College of Mount Saint Vincent ever since she was a young girl.
Growing up, her mother, a native of Italy, brought Ms. Pietrosanti to the Grotto during the month of May on their evening strolls.
“She was very devoted to Mary, and we would walk there in the evenings and on the weekends,” she says.“Once there, we would recite the Rosary, and then my mother would walk with me through the campus and tell me that one day I would go to school there. It is a memory that I will always cherish.”
Like Ms. Pietrosanti, many alumnae/i are the first members of their families to graduate from college. The Mount’s current student body is composed of roughly 40 percent of first-generation college students.
Dr. Anthony Esposito '92
The College attracts numerous first generation college students, such as recent graduate James Vazquez ’06, ’12 M.B.A., as well as Rose Kelly McTague ’68, Dr. Maritza Bianchi ’90, and Dr. Anthony Esposito ’92.
Dr. Maritza Bianchi '90
As the first member of her family to receive a college degree, Mount Kisco-based pediatric dentist Dr. Bianchi says the Mount provided an ideal learning situation that left her well-prepared for dental school at New York University.
In fact, her Mount classes used a lot of the same textbooks that she later encountered in dental school, she says.
“The professors were really willing to work with you,” she says. “(The Mount provided) a non-stressful learning environment. Dr. Felix Bocchino, Sister Mary Edward Zipf, S.C. ’62, Ph.D.—theywould sit down with you and make sure you understood everything. It’s the type of learning that stays with you.”
For the daughter of two Puerto Rican immigrants, Dr. Bianchi says that she found a faculty and staff dedicated to ensuring student success at the Mount.
“I felt that the teachers wanted you to succeed,” she says.“They pushed you, but it was a nice push.”
______________________Mr. Vazquez, who grew up near the Mount and attended nearby St. Margaret of Cortona elementary school, knew that he would eventually apply to the Mount. He obtained his bachelor’s in business administration from the College, and will receive his M.B.A. this spring.
James Vazquez ’06, ’12 M.B.A.
“I walked by the College every day, and knew that I would apply in good time,” he says. “I was conscious of this decision while in high school, and worked hard at maintaining good grades to make myself a good candidate. When it was time to apply to colleges, Mount Saint Vincent was my first choice.”
Although still in graduate school, Mr. Vazquez landed a job with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, where he is currently assistant vice president and senior client service professional in the bank’s Government Services—Connecticut and New York Region division. He credits the Mount with giving him the tools and support that he needed to succeed.
“The College created a sense of security in obtaining a degree,” he says. “I knew that I could approach professors and other faculty with confidence that they would do their best to help. The College has built a reputation of producing capable students.”
Along with the knowledge that he gained at the Mount, Mr. Vazquez credits the support and guidance of his mentors, business faculty members Dr. Teresita Ramirez, Dr. Nina Aversano, and Dean of the School of Professional & Continuing Studies Edward Meyer for his professional success.
“The Mount has given me all the tools I needed to succeed,” he says. “Along with the education that I received, I also honed my leadership skills.”
Rose Kelly McTague ’68
The Mount was and remains an ideal place for first-generation students to obtain their degree, says Ms. McTague, who earned her bachelor’s in English from the College, and is retired from her position as head of school and CEO of Mother Cabrini High School in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.
“Many of the professors themselves were either immigrants or first-generation college graduates,” she says. “They had the same dreams for us as they did when they were students. Faculty and staff were always sensitive to our needs and walked us through situations that may have presented a challenge for first-generation college students; for example, course registration completion and graduate school/professional preparation requirements.”