Education Grad Proves Lifelong Learning Has Merit

Toni Biaggi ’12 balances life, school and family while being a model student in the School Counseling program.

Toni Biaggi

For Toni Biaggi, family and education are two of the cornerstones of life, which makes three graduations in one week all the more fitting. As she and her daughters prepared to celebrate her own graduate degree from Manhattan College, one daughter also graduated with a law degree from Fordham University and the other graduated with an undergraduate degree from New York University.

At the age of 61, Biaggi said the Master’s in School Counseling culminates the lifelong pursuit of becoming an educator. She began on this path as an undergraduate, but life’s events caused her to put her graduate degree on the back burner.

During that time, she worked in Washington, D. C., assisting in the drafting of legislation in the drug treatment and prevention areas, and also worked in several community service positions, including director of communications and public relations at Daytop Village, a drug recovery center in the Bronx. While she was raising her family, she was the consummate parent volunteer.

When a friend died suddenly several years ago, Biaggi said it felt like a wake-up call. She applied to Manhattan College that week and received her acceptance letter on her friend Nancy’s birthday, “which felt like a sign I was on the right path.”

She never looked back. When she first applied, she thought, “Can I keep pace with the younger students, can I write, can I take a test?” The answer was a definite yes, as she is graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Biaggi, whose husband is a 1970 Manhattan alumnus, found the campus very accepting of her, even though she was a non-traditional student. “I embraced them and they embraced me,” she said. “I think it saved my life being here.”

Circling back to family, Biaggi said that while a student, her family rallied to support her and give her the time she needed to study while working. “My husband would bring me tea when I was really stressing,” she added, saying her family gave back all the care she had given them.

Now ready to bring that concern she has had for others throughout her career to counseling, Biaggi is putting the final touches on her resume and starting on the next part of her journey.

“Toni has excelled academically as a graduate student but she has also given back to others,” said Corine Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., program director for the counseling programs and a professor of education. “While in the program, professors have commented on how she is always willing to help others and offer assistance for any program activities. She is truly a model for the Lasallian value of commitment to social justice and to helping others.”