By Meghan Sackman
As college students, we can often forget that our professors were once sitting in our desks as college students themselves. Some even shared the experience of attending Manhattan College as students themselves. MC alumni Rocco Marinaccio is one of these professors. Marinaccio, who graduated from Manhattan with his Bachelor’s degree in 1981, was always sure of his choice to study English and his career in English brought him back to his alma mater to teach.
Since he is from the Bronx, Marinaccio commuted to his classes from his home. However, commuting did not stop him from becoming involved in the MC community. “It’s good to be on campus as much as possible,” Marinaccio said. For Marinaccio, his interest in English led him to involvement with many facets of the English department. “I got involved with the literary magazine, which back then was called The Humanist and in my senior year I was the student assistant for the chair of the department,” Marinaccio said.
As a student turned professor, Marinaccio has a unique perspective on many things on campus, and since his research interests are in food studies, Marinaccio has of course noticed a change in the food since he was a student. “The food was completely wretched. It was gray,” Marinaccio said. “You have no idea how much better it is.” Something that the campus has lost since Marinaccio’s time as a student is the bar that used to occupy Café 1853, formerly Plato’s. “There was a beer tap in what used to be Plato’s cave,” he said.
As a member of the class of 1981, Marinaccio was in the third class that allowed women to enroll at Manhattan College. He noted how far the curriculum has come in including female writers in English classes, as the classes he took typically had minimal integration of female works in to the syllabi. “I could count the number of women I read,” Marinaccio said, “and I took 51 credits in English.”
As a professor of English Marinaccio is now teaching the English classes he once took, but things have changed since he was a student. “What really changed is I generally want more discussion oriented classes than I took,” Marinaccio said. While his English classes were based on lectures, he encourages his students to get involved class discussions. “Lecture was more of a universal teaching style back then,” he said.
When he returned to Manhattan as a professor, many of the people who taught him as a student were still active professors at the college, and some still are. Professors Rentaro Hashimoto and Brother Patrick Horner, who taught Marinaccio as a student in the School of Arts, are now his colleagues. “I found that it made me really comfortable here and I’ve always felt lucky to work with people who have inspired me,” Marinaccio said.
“I got a great education by incredibly caring teachers,” Marinaccio said. “I feel like being back here is in some way paying that back.”