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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

Recruiting Champions

It was late spring of 2021, and Tia Abbinanti ’25, was waffling with where to continue her education. Her choices were down to the University of Dayton and a school near her hometown of Buffalo, New York. 

“I visited UD in March, but there were a lot of restrictions in place so I was just unsure about what the experience would really be like,” she said. 

A phone call from UD alum Wendy Macaluso ’95, helped Abbinanti envision the true UD experience — and soon after she committed to becoming a Flyer.

Macaluso volunteers with the Flyer Champion program, providing personalized outreach to admitted students. Flyer Champions help potential students like Abbinanti make informed choices about their next steps in their educational journey, answering any questions and giving students a first-hand account of the UD experience. 

“I’m not from Ohio, so I asked her about the area, as well as the UD environment without the restrictions. She was very honest, which I liked. It wasn’t like she was trying to persuade me. She just told me what UD was like when she went. I felt like she had my best interest at heart,” said Abbinanti. 

They talked for more than an hour — and established a bond that continues to this day and has developed into more of a mentor/mentee relationship. “We talk on the holidays and send pictures back and forth,” said Abbinanti. “She’s definitely helping me navigate my major and think about my career path.”

Abbinanti is majoring in communication with a minor in criminal justice, which could, in fact, lead to a career in the same arena as Macaluso’s, who practices law in New York — making her the perfect alum to provide guidance. 

“Wendy talks about how Dayton has a lot of connections with law programs and internships, which is pretty exciting,” said Abbinanti. 

What began as a phone call has become so much more — for Abbinanti and Macaluso. “Tia is fantastic!” said Macaluso. “I immediately knew that she was special and would be a great Flyer.” 

Macaluso is one of 128 Flyer Champion alumni volunteers who have reached out to 1,700 admitted students over the last two years. On average, the communication process with students only takes four to five hours over the course of the spring months — volunteers are only required to contact 10 to 15 students, but can always take on more. To get started, volunteers receive training materials and attend a one-hour digital training. All in all, it is a small investment of time that can have a big payoff for both students and alums.

“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.”

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