My Flyer Family: Three generations, a couple of states, one campus
Whenever I walk by Marycrest, I am flooded with memories of my freshman year and a sudden connection to my aunt, who lived in the same dorm and on my same floor as me 40 years ago. As I walk by the Science Center, I notice both Sherman Hall and Wohlleben Hall and think about how those halls were brand new when my grandfather was a senior in the 1950s. When I walk through UD Arena to receive my diploma in just a few years and stare at the crowds of thousands, I will think of my grandfather, who was one of just 175 in his graduating class.
My family’s fondness for the University of Dayton has only grown over the years, but times have changed since my grandfather, Fortunato Giannetto ’59, started his education here in 1955. It was rare to visit college campuses before attending them in those times, so he never set foot on UD’s campus until he became a student. Founders Hall was the only dorm, and he never ended up living on campus during his four years here.
UD served as a major place of transition for my grandfather, both as a transition from adolescence to adulthood and as a transition between cultural environments. He credits UD with helping him settle and ease into adult life, while other universities that his friends attended overwhelmed them.
Originally from the Bronx, New York, my grandfather — who is fluent in Italian — had to adapt to new cultural norms in the Midwest. There was actually a decent portion of UD students from New Jersey and New York during his time, but they still had to get used to different attitudes and behaviors in UD’s environment.
My grandfather would go on to start a heating and air conditioning business in New Jersey and held UD in such high regard that he established the Giannetto Engineering Scholarship, served on the engineering advisory council in the 1980s and encouraged his children to consider attending UD. Three out of five of his children would go on to attend UD: Christine Miller ’84, Joseph Giannetto ’87 and my dad, Christopher Giannetto ’93.
My aunt Christine grew up in New Jersey, earned her bachelor’s degree in fine arts and remembers how her father always encouraged her and her siblings to go away for college since being away from home was half the education. Like her grandfather, she did not visit UD before becoming a student, but she always knew that it would be a wonderful place to receive an education. She returned to NJ for several years but ended up back in Ohio and does design and advertising work in Columbus.
My aunt speaks of her time at UD with great reverence. She met her best friend in Marycrest Hall and has fond memories of sledding down Stuart Hill on cafeteria trays and going to porch parties.
She said she will always remember her senior year, which is when the UD basketball team went to the Final Four in the NCAA tournament. That team was known as the “Cinderella team,” and every student was watching the games somewhere. The campus was electric, and she will never forget it.
Forty years later, I am carrying on my family’s tradition and have loved UD just like the other members of my family. My dad never pressured me to go. Coming here was my decision and the right decision.
Coming here was my decision and the right decision.
I love hearing stories from my family, being in the same classrooms my aunt was in and walking by where all of my family members used to live. I was able to visit campus before I committed and noticed that it was distinctly more welcoming than other campuses.
I may be carrying on a tradition, but I am still forging my own path at UD. I am a pre-med major, I work as a spinning instructor at RecPlex and I am a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the pre-professional health honor society. I adore spending time with my friends and am looking forward to the memories I will be making with them.
UD’s residence halls may have multiplied and the campus is expanding every minute, but it has still retained the same atmosphere that my family has loved for nearly 70 years. Times may change, but UD will always feel like home.
As told to Rebecca Sutton '25