Francis LaLomia will graduate from Corning Community College (CCC) later this month, but, he said, he will always advocate for his alma mater, the City of Corning, and partnerships between the two. LaLomia, whose parents graduated from CCC 25 years ago, has dedicated much of his college career to building bridges between the college on the hill and the city in the valley, finding opportunities in his honors course work to do so.
“It’s important that colleges, especially community colleges, support the community of which they’re part,” said LaLomia, who worked with the Gaffer District to find opportunities. “It seemed to me that some additional partnerships between the college and the city might provide mutual benefits to residents of the area and students, so I looked for possibilities.”
LaLomia focused his efforts on special events sponsored by the Gaffer District. He organized a cohort of student and faculty volunteers to run a food booth at the 2013 Wine Glass Marathon and also to manage the children’s games at the Fall Harvest Festival. LaLomia also promoted the long-standing Show Your Badge program that encourages members of the college community to shop in Corning.
In a triple win situation, LaLomia’s work benefited the college, the city, and him, as the successful initiatives helped LaLomia earn honors credit in business and computer science classes. LaLomia will graduate with a 4.0 GPA and an honors diploma. He has been accepted to the Binghamton University, where he will pursue a bachelor’s degree in the School of Management, beginning in the Fall of 2015. Before earning his four-year degree, though, LaLomia will work at Glass Menagerie in the Gaffer District through the end of 2014. This will allow him to earn experience in management and finances, as well as remain in the Gaffer District, which is one of his passions.
From there, he will go to El Salvador where he will volunteer for TECHO, a non-profit organization that builds communities by building houses in remote villages. “The people in these communities are happy to be alive,” said LaLomia, who made three trips to El Salvador as a volunteer during high school in New Hampshire and has served as a chaperone twice before. “The meals on their tables are basic at best, but they have their families. They live each day and have learned to enjoy the little things in life, which I find adds tremendous balance to my big picture perspective.”
When he is not volunteering with TECHO, LaLomia will work for the European Academy in El Salvador, teaching students French and English and hoping to strengthen his Spanish skills. Spanish will be the second language LaLomia has learned by immersing himself in a new culture. Directly after graduating from high school, LaLomia spent a year in Belgium as a Rotary exchange student, where he learned French.
“My year in Belgium probably contributed to my decision to stay local for the first two years of college,” said LaLomia, explaining that while it’s important for some students to choose a college that will let them get away, he had already done that. “I was looking for the full college experience: Corning either had everything I wanted or had plans to bring it here. A residential campus was important to me. I am one of the first students to have lived in Perry Hall, so I helped create the foundation for a 24/7 residential experience. Because Corning offered everything I was looking for in such an affordable way, the opportunity cost of choosing Corning was something that just made sense.”