His parents, who immigrated to the U.S. from southern Italy and had to leave school at a young age, wanted Luciano and his two brothers to appreciate the value of those attributes for a successful future.
“They believed that if their children had a better education, they would end up with better lives, not struggling to find food for the table like they did when they were kids,” Luciano says. But, while he intuitively appreciated his family and health, it wasn’t until his senior year in high school that he made his own education a priority.
“I thought back to my mother telling me about the importance of education my whole life, and how it will lead to further happiness and success down the road,” he says. “Now, keeping a 3.5 [GPA] is a big goal.”
Luciano has found the supportive environment at Manhattan key to achieving that goal. In addition to pursuing a double major in economics and finance, he is minoring in math and completed an honors track in calculus. Under the tutelage of Ira Gerhardt, assistant professor of mathematics, he was able to master the rigorous curriculum.
“Dr. Gerhardt encouraged students in a way I hadn’t seen before,” he says. “I didn’t really understand [the material] at first, but he would push me to come to office hours for extra help. To have one professor who wants to see you succeed, for me was a blessing.”
Another factor that’s positively impacted his time at Manhattan has been the financial support he receives from the Band of Italian American Brothers Scholarship. It was established by business graduates from the classes of 1979 and 1981 as a memorial and tribute to deceased classmates.
“The scholarship has helped me pace myself academically,” Luciano says. “It covered the cost of a winter class, which helps ease my course load and will hopefully help me graduate early or on time.”
Extracurriculars also keep Luciano hustling. He’s director of finance for Beta Alpha Psi, the business honor society, and a member of the Investment Club. Through the Investment Club, he is learning to use a Bloomberg Terminal to monitor and analyze financial market data.
“I’m able to apply what I’m doing in classes to real-world situations,” he says. “For example, in the Investment Club, I use a lot of cash-flow models and ratios to be able to identify the valuation of a stock.”
His time at Manhattan has also introduced Luciano to a new sport: rowing. He decided to try out for the crew team his sophomore year.
“The first day, I had no idea what to do,” he recalls. “But we had a race coming up, and I had to learn. Two weeks in, I got the hang of it. I fell in love with it after that. Being on the water at five in the morning, it’s like you’re out there in the middle of the night — it’s just beautiful.”
Looking ahead, Luciano aims to put his degree to work in advisory services, helping others to grow their wealth.
“Without the financial system of intermediaries and loans, people wouldn’t be able to live their dreams, start a business, own a house, start a family,” he says. “So you’re creating wealth for people to better their lives.”
Which brings him full circle to his family’s Italian roots, his scholarship, and a story his mother often told him.
“There was an earthquake in her hometown and her house was destroyed,” he recounts. “Her father would go into the woods and pick up branches to build a shed that they lived in until he was able to rebuild the house.”
Luciano sees parallels between his grandfather’s hard work and the financial support he’s received from the scholarship, which, he says, both provide the “stepping stones to getting back to where you were. You can always fall down, but it’s about how you get back up and how you continue moving forward.”
“It makes me proud to be recognized by fellow Italians,” he concludes.