Grand reunion turns into a grand celebration of an alumna

Jacob Waring – Reporter

Alumni from all years were invited to celebrate the benchmark of the university reaching 125 years and to honor the class of 1968 who have reached their 50th year at Homecoming’s 125th Anniversary Grand Reunion Celebration this weekend.

Alumna Carolyn Dorsey Vanacore, was awarded the Alumni Association’s 2018 Distinguished Alumna Award.

“She has been teaching since 1952, and she was a physical education teacher,” said Director of Alumni Relations Michelle Johnston. “She has helped people like Kevin Gilbride, who is the former head coach of the Giants. She has helped people along the way that have gone out and done things throughout the nation.”

President Joe Bertolino said during the event, she graduated back in 1952 and returned to Southern in 1965 to become an assistant professor of women’s physical education. Even at the age of 87, he said, she remains active.

“She continues to compete in her later years, in tennis at the Senior Olympics actually, she [has] done more than compete, Carolyn has won the gold medal in tennisat the Connecticut Senior Olympics for the last five years. And at the national level, she has won both a bronze and a silver, making her one of the elite players in senior single play in the United States,” said Bertolino.

Bertolino said Vanacore’s pioneering effort had open doors for many other female athletes and had received numerous recognitions for her achievements in athleticism.

According to Bertolino, Vanacore will be inducted into Southern’s Athletic Alumni Hall of Fame next spring.

Vanacore said she felt honored to be a recipient of this prestigious award.

“I’m very happy about this award.,” she said. “I get to see so many of my former students and colleagues here and all of those folks helped me to be a better person or teacher and helped me to establish situations where women got respected in the sport world, and as the president said, I plan to compete in singles for as long as I can.”

Robert Axtell, a coordinator of the graduate program, said Vanacore was on his search committee when he was hired, and he reflected upon the kind of person she is.

“She’s a very supportive person, she always wanted the best for you, so you can be successful. She did everything she could to help you be successful,” said Axel

Joe Margucci, an alumnus, said this was the first reunion he had participated in.

“I don’t know what I was hoping for honestly, I was hoping to see some people from back in the day. Other than that, it’s been greet meeting some new people,” said Margucci.

Angela Ruggiero, an alumna, and the assistant director of academic and career advising for the School of Health and Human Services. She said this was her first reunion of any kind that she attended as well.

“It’s great seeing different classes here coming together,” said Ruggiero. “You feel united even though you’re so many years apart.”

She also said she was amazed by Vanacore’s tenacity and resilience as an athlete in her older age.

“I’m amazed! Amazed by her, you know I’m in midlife right now, and worried about my health,” said Ruggerio. “I was pretty active all through my childhood. It’s just really encouraging to know that if we take care of ourselves, we can continue life all the way through.”

Photo Credit: Jacob Waring



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