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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

Aerial view of Keller Hall, home of the University of Dayton School of Law, taken in 2021.

Helping Future Flyers Find Their Way

Every Flyer has a story about why they landed at the University of Dayton. For some, it’s a family thing. For others, it’s the campus that just felt like home to them. But the little bit of luck that went into Wendy Macaluso, J.D. ’95, first being introduced to Dayton isn’t something she takes for granted. After graduating from the State University of New York at Albany, she attended a college fair and met the man she would later credit for bringing her to UD. Jack Cox is a former director of admission for the University of Dayton School of Law. Growing up in New York state, Macaluso had never heard of the University of Dayton. But the campus that Cox described captured Macaluso’s attention and her heart. It wouldn’t be long before she would make the trip to Dayton herself and never look back.

“People say they dread law school and it was horrible, and they take the bar exam and that is horrible,” says Macaluso. “I actually loved law school. I loved everything about being in Dayton. I met most of my best friends in Dayton.”

The joy she experienced with those lifelong friends wouldn’t be the only way she was impacted. Her group of friends included a fellow UDSL graduate who taught her about loss too. She and Damon E. Larrier became close friends but he died from an undiagnosed heart condition when he was just 32 years old.

“I look back at Dayton as giving me one of my biggest blessings because I met my best friend.”

After graduating in 1995 with her law degree in hand, Macaluso passed the New York bar examination on her first try and through the law school’s alumni network, landed her first post-collegiate job.

“I found a lawyer from [the University of] Dayton in Long Island and he gave me my first internship in Queens,” Macaluso says. “I worked for a judge from that connection and we’ve maintained our friendship for more than 25 years now. So that’s another gift that Dayton has given me, aside from so many others.”

But even as she was building her career with the strong foundation she started at UD, Macaluso knew her success wouldn’t have been possible without that lucky introduction at a college fair. She decided to pay it forward and started getting involved. From mentoring students through their college career and beyond to joining the School of Law Alumni Association board of directors, Macaluso has spread the word about her time at the University of Dayton to as many potential Flyers as possible. Most recently, she spotted an email sent to alumni and became a Flyer Champion volunteer in the Flyer Recruitment Program.

As Flyer Champions, alumni volunteer to connect through calls and texts to students who have been accepted to the University but are still deciding whether they will attend. The idea is for Flyer Champion volunteers to give prospective students the chance to ask questions, learn about UD and discover the benefits of a Marianist education from someone with firsthand experience.

“You really have the opportunity through this program to get a student to go to Dayton and give them that Marianist tradition and Marianist experience,” says Macaluso. “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give a student, I think.”

In its inaugural year, around 80 Flyer alumni volunteers like Macaluso got involved with the Flyer Recruitment Program.

“For those [alumni] that want to share their experience and try to help the younger generation come to UD … this is a great opportunity for them,” says Macaluso.

She also formed a bond with one of the students she contacted as part of the program. Macaluso prepared that student for what to expect during her campus visit and now that the student has decided to attend UD, the two have plans to stay in touch no matter where the future takes that student.

“It was such a joy to see her go and leave the University knowing it was her home and she was going there,” says Macaluso.

Macaluso continues to practice law in New York and is focused on her family, especially her teenage son. His middle name begins with D, a tribute to both her time in Dayton and Damon, the fellow UDSL friend who passed away. But no matter where life takes her, Macaluso’s days of studying at Keller Hall or hanging out on Brown Street are never far from her mind.

“I owe a lot to Dayton. It really gave me a strong foundation to be a successful lawyer and survive … thrive, basically.”

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