’09 grad, 82, knows it's never too late to learn

Edmund D'Attelo
At 82 years old, Edmund D’Attelo knows a thing or two about dedication, particularly when it comes to earning an education. On May 16, he’ll receive a bachelor’s degree in history and will be the second oldest person to receive an undergraduate degree from the College.

From recording and transcribing lectures, to meeting personally with professors on a regular basis, D’Attelo’s consistent work ethic is the result of an unquestioning commitment to finally earning his college degree.

After being discharged from the U.S. Army in 1948, D’Attelo made his first attempt at a post-secondary degree at Fairfield University. Before long, however, D’Attelo said that “economics dictated his career,” and he left after his first semester to support his family.

For the next several decades, D’Attelo intermittently took classes at nearly all of Rhode Island’s colleges and universities (a writing class at Roger Williams University, a real estate class at Johnson and Wales University, a computer class at CCRI, some introductory history courses at the University of Rhode Island) before enrolling at RIC in 2003.

D’Attelo owned three different companies before retiring. After that, D’Attelo met with RIC history professor Joanne Schneider and set a prospective date for his graduation to begin working towards his lifelong dream of earning a college degree.

Six years later, D’Attelo approaches graduation, finding that lists of favorite classes and professors cannot accurately summarize his experience at RIC; instead, the College’s attitude as a whole had the greatest effect on him.

“Whenever you feel a little hesitant there are people who pick you up,” D’Attelo said. “That’s what I was able to find here.”

While D’Attelo’s classmates were almost all at least half his age, their ability to pursue their education despite their own struggles inspired D’Attelo to proceed through his own; he credits his family, classmates and the RIC staff for encouraging and supporting him.

“How can you fail,” he asked, “when everyone supports you and wants you to succeed?”

Don’t be fooled. After receiving his diploma, D’Attelo will not be content with simply hanging it on a wall. He has his résumé prepared, and is actively seeking employment in the transportation field, hopefully, he said, as a researcher.