Alison A. Guardino ’92
“A Special Place in My Heart”
When Alison Guardino ’92 was a senior at Bishop Kearney High School in Brooklyn, New York, she thought she would never join her older sister, Stacey, at Manhattan College. “We’re two years apart,” Alison explains. “As far back as grammar school, I was always following her into the next grade. I thought college would be the place where I might not be known as Stacey’s little sister.”
Alison changed her mind when visiting Stacey at the Riverdale campus. “I thought it was beautiful,” she says. “And I got to meet all the students my sister knew there — they were all wonderful, exactly the kind of friends I wanted to be able to make at college. I fell in love with the place.”
As a finance major in the O’Malley School of Business, Alison found more to Manhattan than interesting students and an appealing campus. “I’ll always appreciate what we learned — and how we learned it,” she says. “Not only were the professors great teachers, but they all had such impressive industry experience. They gave us an inside look at what we needed to succeed.”
Alison earned her Manhattan College degree in 1992. Beginning as a sales assistant at the former PaineWebber & Co., she built a career as a successful executive, rising from an associate position to senior vice president at companies such as CIBC World Markets Corporation, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, HSBC and New York Private Bank and Trust, a division of Emigrant Bank. Over the years, Alison has mastered specialties including equities, derivatives and KYC (Know Your Customer) operations.
“That’s what our professors advised,” she says, pointing especially to faculty members like Ahmed Goma, Ph.D.; Charles Geisst, Ph.D.; and James Suarez, Ph.D., a former dean of the O’Malley School. “They said, ‘learn as much as you can about multiple areas of the industry.’ That way, we’d have broad knowledge while being able to identify whatever interested us most.”
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Alison lived two blocks from her mother’s childhood home. Although her father only took a few college-level courses in accounting and bookkeeping, the U.S. Navy veteran achieved success in printing. “He wanted us to pursue business,” she says. “He once said, ‘I put you through school. Now do something with it.’” At Manhattan, Alison lived on campus and engaged in service through Circle K International, a college program sponsored by Kiwanis International. She still volunteers as part of the group.
Alison continues to assist her alma mater as well. She contributes generously to the O’Malley School of Business and helps to mentor undergraduates. “The College has a very special place in my heart,” says Alison. “I’ve worked hard to achieve success. Manhattan and my parents helped me lay the foundation for it. I’m grateful to give back to an institution that means so much to me.”
Brian and Victoria Chasin ’12
Seeing Their Efforts Take Root
With his finance degree from Manhattan College in hand, Brian Chasin ’12 initially considered working in the stock market to be a fitting career move. “At the time,” he says, “I thought it would be good to make a name for myself in the field.” He went to work as an equity trader.
But he soon had second thoughts. “It just wasn’t fulfilling,” says Brian. “I kept asking myself, ‘What am I building? What am I giving back?’” He missed the hours he and his brother, Philip, had spent in their father’s demolition and real estate firm, a family business that emphasized strong personal relations with clients. “We learned so much at his side — he was an amazing mentor,” says Brian. “We loved to see projects take root and grow.”
In 2014, just two years after graduating from Manhattan College, Brian partnered with Philip to establish SOBA New Jersey, a New Brunswick treatment center that helps adults 18 and above to overcome substance abuse, addictions and other mental health issues. With 20 inpatient beds and more than 80 employees including nurses, psychiatrists and caseworkers, SOBA treats roughly 500 clients a year.
Now, as principals in Chasin Properties, Brian and Philip are working to expand the facility to 40 inpatient beds. They also are developing properties throughout the East Coast for uses ranging from warehouses to housing for university students in South Carolina. At meetings, Brian says, some clients and prospective partners seem surprised by his age. “I’ve gotten used to being asked how old I am,” says the 32-year-old entrepreneur.
Attorney Victoria Chasin — Brian’s wife, also a 2012 Manhattan graduate — manages the firm’s assets and provides guidance on property law. “Working together seemed like the natural thing to do,” says Victoria. “We usually see eye to eye on most things.”
They were still at Manhattan when mutual friends introduced them to each other. Victoria notes, “It became clear pretty quickly that we share so many mutual interests—including real estate.” Choosing to focus on the legal aspects of the industry, Victoria went on to earn her J.D. degree from Brooklyn Law School in 2015.
Today, Victoria and Brian are young parents. “It all started at Manhattan,” says Brian. In appreciation, he and Victoria chose to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their graduation by making a generous gift to the Fund for Manhattan, specifically benefiting the Anniversary Class Fund. “When you’re grateful for the opportunities you’ve had,” he says, “your thoughts naturally turn to giving back. Manhattan very quickly came to mind.”
Supporting the Anniversary Class Fund was especially appealing. “We know that it helps provide scholarships,” he explains. “That means a lot. It’s the same sensibility as when I decided to choose a different career path —Victoria and I want to build something with the tools we’ve been given.”
Louis (Lou) ’63 and Elizabeth Bufano
“Blessed to Contribute”
Only a year out of Manhattan College, Lou Bufano ’63 came across a magazine article that inspired him to swap his first job as an engineer for two years in an unfamiliar country.
“I was doing library research,” he says. “By sheer accident, I picked up a National Geographic.” Reading about several nurses serving with the Peace Corps in Tanzania, he thought, “I’ve just got to do that.”
The year was 1964, and the Peace Corps was in its heyday, as Lou recalls. He shared the idea with his new wife, Elizabeth. “I didn’t see why not,” she says. “We didn’t have kids yet. We were renting our apartment. It was so easy to pack up and go.” They celebrated their first wedding anniversary while training for the Peace Corps.
After spending two years teaching at Dar Es Salaam Technical College in Tanzania’s capital, Lou and Betty returned to the United States with fond memories and a new perspective. “We saw how easily we take what we have for granted,” Lou says, “and how important it is to try to make a difference for those who lack access to those advantages.” With his bachelor’s degree from Manhattan’s School of Engineering and a master’s from the University of Bridgeport, he went on to design electronic systems and circuits at companies such as United Aircraft, Exxon and the Vicor Corporation. Elizabeth returned to teaching English.
Today, Lou and Elizabeth, the parents of four adult children, are enjoying retirement. They also continue to serve those in need. They established the Louis and Elizabeth Bufano Scholarship at Manhattan College to assist underrepresented students in the School of Engineering. “There’s still so much inequality for those who are considered minorities,” says Lou. “We all benefit when traditionally underserved groups are helped to fully contribute to society.” Betty adds, “Lou and I feel blessed to be able to contribute in this way. We both want to do our part.”
Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Lou attended Manhattan College as a “day hop,” commuting to campus by bus from the other side of the borough. Each afternoon, he traveled again to a part-time job as a supermarket cashier. To save time, he occasionally walked across the wooded expanse of Van Cortlandt Park. “Working, going to class and studying — that’s all there was time for,” he says.
Still, the College’s emphasis on service made a lasting impression. “I went to Catholic schools all my life,” says Lou. “Caring for others is something we were taught early on.” Elizabeth also experienced the values of a Catholic education. As an honor society member at the former Good Counsel College, in White Plains, New York, she volunteered at a local Red Cross office.
Funding a scholarship at Manhattan was a “practical way to do some good,” says Lou. “Helping those in need is part of the College’s heritage. That’s certainly true of other institutions — Notre Dame, for example. But our hearts are at Manhattan. It’s gratifying to know we can make a difference for talented students who’ll go on to do big things.”
Henry Fernandez ’05
Messages That Make a Difference
When Henry Fernandez ’05 was growing up in Washington Heights, New York, the subway beckoned like a gateway to new and interesting neighborhoods beyond his local streets. “Even as a kid, I was always curious — and restless,” he says. “I loved to explore my city.”
On one journey, Henry took an uptown train to the last stop — Van Cortlandt Park, in the Bronx. There he caught his first glimpse of Manhattan College, high on its hilltop campus. “There was an aura about it,” he recalls. “I had a feeling that wonderful things go on there. I wanted to know what they were.”
The opportunity came during Henry’s senior year at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx. After working afternoons and evenings to pay his tuition, he was determined to take his next step — at a quality college. A guidance counselor suggested Manhattan. “I had friends there, and they loved it,” Henry says. “That first day I saw the campus never left my mind.”
Henry enrolled in the O’Malley School of Business. Though he continued to work after class, he also made time to volunteer at a women’s shelter and join the Marketing Club. “But the best part of it,” he notes, “was the professors,” including faculty like Alfred Manduley, Ph.D., and Carolyn Predmore, Ph.D. “They believed in me,” says Henry. “And they let me know it.”
Graduating with a degree in marketing and global business, Henry worked at a marketing research firm on Long Island — a position Predmore helped him secure. He went on to Liz Claiborne and Nautica, where, as brand manager, he mastered emerging social media. Nautica paid for his evening graduate studies at the New York Film Academy, Parsons School of Design.
Today, Henry is director of business evolution at M/H, a San Francisco-based advertising agency. Responsible for the agency’s varied account teams, he monitors marketing trends to ensure that clients receive innovative services to promote their brands and grow their businesses. He jokes, “I always run at two speeds: zero or 100 miles per hour.”
Messaging that makes a difference is Henry’s passion. He is especially proud of a campaign he developed for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. His updated music video of the Soul Asylum song Runaway Train uses an algorithm to display information about lost children within eight miles of a viewer’s location.
Henry’s penchant for hard work stretches back to childhood, when he helped his mother with housework. “She had two jobs,” he says. “I cooked, cleaned and did laundry for my brother and me.” Recently, a colleague coined a term for his stamina — “Henergy,” which is equally evident in his personal life. Henry prizes spending time with his wife, Angelyn, and two sons, Henry Jr. and Hudson.
True to form, he also remains dedicated to his alma mater: he has joined the Advisory Board of the O’Malley School of Business and has made a significant pledge in support of the School. “I want to make sure others have the same opportunity I did,” he says. “It’s really about making a difference.”
Robert Lobley ’81
Learning to Appreciate “Something Greater”
“Engineering,” says Robert (Bob) Lobley ’81, “is in my DNA.” The talent and desire to design and construct useful things seems to run in his family. He observes, “So many of them have been do-it-yourselfers — brick layers, tradesmen, builders, all going way, way back.”
His father, a former ship electrician who became an engineer with New York Telephone, was an especially big influence. “He was always a big mentor,” Bob recalls. “I loved working around the house with him — wiring, installing outlets in the basement playroom. On Saturday mornings, I would always ask, ‘What are we taking apart today, Dad?’”
Bob was a senior at Westlake High School in Mount Pleasant, New York, when he chose to follow his passion at Manhattan College. “The School of Engineering had an excellent reputation,” he says. “Some of the older kids in the neighborhood went there — I remember the decal on their cars.” The nearby Riverdale campus offered him an extra advantage: “During my first year, I could save money by living at home.”
Earning his electrical engineering degree at Manhattan in 1981, Bob embarked on a distinguished 34-year career at the General Electric Company (GE). He rose through the corporate ranks, leading initiatives far afield from his original discipline: supervising manufacturing and technology operations, analyzing flight computers for errors, establishing quality-control protocols and ultimately becoming an executive in the company’s marketing and equity divisions. “GE was great at recruiting and developing leadership talent,” he says. “I was supervising teams at 23.”
While GE excelled at grooming managers, Bob attributes his success to something more. “At Manhattan College,” Bob notes, “we learned to solve problems — especially in the School of Engineering.” Critical thinking, he explains, is essential to balancing equations that determine whether systems fail or succeed. “You don’t stop until the numbers are right. The same process applies to manufacturing, auditing . . . just about everything!”
Manhattan also provides a broader perspective on learning, says Bob. “We were all required to take courses like religion, philosophy, the humanities —subjects that gave us an appreciation for other cultures, other faiths, and a sense that there’s definitely something more to life.”
Bob is determined to help strengthen the College’s Lasallian Catholic approach to education. Toward that end, he has made two significant gift pledges — a bequest to fund the Omer and Lena Lobley Endowed Scholarship, honoring the memory of his parents; and a commitment for laboratory facilities at the College’s new Patricia and Cornelius J. Higgins ’62 Engineering and Science Center. In addition, Bob also volunteers his time to the College, most recently by participating in a panel discussion on careers in engineering.
“That’s another thing we learn at Manhattan College,” Bob reflects. “We not only aim to do well, but to do good. That’s something that has lasting value —something that’s greater than ourselves.”
Christopher Scala ’05
A Family Tradition of Engineering Excellence
As a senior at the Iona Preparatory School in New Rochelle, New York, Christopher (Chris) Scala ’05 thought he might apply his interest in the sciences toward a career in medicine. But, he recalls, there was a slight problem: “My aversion to blood.”
Chris found a different path in the sciences, following the decades-long examples of success achieved within his own family. “Several of them made their mark as engineers,” he observes. “And they all got their start at Manhattan College.”
He enrolled in Manhattan’s School of Engineering. Chris became a third-generation Jasper, joining his grandfather, Anthony J. Scala ’44; his father, Anthony J. Scala Jr. ’74 (a Manhattan College trustee); and several aunts, uncles and cousins.
“It was the School’s reputation that attracted each of us,” Chris says. “Manhattan was always well-known for preparing successful professionals.” Chris is a double alumnus, having earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 2005 and his master’s in civil engineering in 2007. His brother, Anthony J. Scala III ’03, preceded him with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering; their sister, Victoria Scala, Ph.D., earned her bachelor’s in civil engineering at Manhattan in 2010.
Today, Chris is chief executive officer at Lowy & Donnath Inc., one of the New York metropolitan area’s leading electrical construction firms. “We’ve taken the lead on quite a number of high-profile projects,” he notes, such as the recent updating of electrical systems at the New York Stock Exchange. Wherever his work takes him, Chris often meets other Manhattan engineers. “I’ve rarely been in a meeting where there’s not at least one other Jasper,” he says. “It’s amazing. A college of Manhattan’s size has had such a huge impact on the region, the country and the world.”
Chris attributes this record of success to the College’s strong educational tradition. “After all,” he says, “it’s a Christian Brothers college. That shapes the whole approach to learning.” Chris remembers the rigor of the curriculum, which combined engineering with a foundation in business, ethics and his professors’ personal experiences with practicing in New York — “which tends to be more complex than many other parts of the country,” he adds.
Manhattan also is where Chris met his wife, Alicia, who earned her degree in education in 2006. They both lived on campus and participated in student government and Lasallian service activities, including food drives with Brother Robert Berger, FSC, a former vice president of student life who currently serves as associate professor of religious studies and resident director in Jasper Hall.
With that legacy of service in mind, Chris and Alicia remain ardent supporters of the College. For example, they are generous contributors to the Fund for Manhattan, specifically benefiting the Annual Fund, which generates resources for scholarships and other forms of aid. Chris also supports College initiatives such as the Summer Engineering Awareness Program, which encourages local high school students to major in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, as well as the Construction Industry Golf Tournament for alumni and friends.
“Manhattan has prepared so many working-class students for success, including first-generation Americans like my grandfather,” Chris observes. “Alicia and I want to make sure that legacy continues for the students of today.”