group of students in row


By Carla Beecher & Adapted by Jared Fritz-McCarty

For 2010 English graduate Jessica Guazzini, ending up at Roosevelt seems like a touch of serendipity. 

Jessica in heart shirt

“I grew up in the downstate town of Trenton,” Guazzini said, “so seeing a Roosevelt poster on one of my high school’s bulletin boards felt so random to me at the time. I remember it was very colorful and showed four diverse students — which was like a breath of fresh air compared to my small-town upbringing. I knew I had to go there.”
The first time she saw campus was when she arrived for school that fall. “It was everything and more than I thought it would be. I instantly fell in love,” she said.

Now living in Nashville with her husband, Paolo — whom she met studying abroad at the American University in Rome in 2009 — and their son, Remy, 2, Guazzini looks back on her college days as an exciting and formative opportunity to study at a remarkable school. 
“How rare it is to find a school with such a compelling history and mission,” she adds, referring to Roosevelt’s founding in 1945 when its first president refused to provide demographic data to its predecessor’s board for fear they’d use it to exclude African Americans, Jews, immigrants and women.
“Having that history behind you can only help shape you going forward,” she says of Roosevelt’s social-justice mission.
Roosevelt graduates are socially motivated, she continued. “They run for office. They’re human rights lawyers. No matter where they are or how they make a living, they are at the forefront fighting for equality and justice. As alumni, we need to help today’s students have the same experience or better than we did. The school relies on all of us to help lift up the next generation of Lakers.”
She points to the brand-new building on Wabash. “In just the 10-years’ time since I graduated, students already have more resources and support because of donor generosity and strong University leadership. It’s wonderful. Year after year, Roosevelt keeps getting better and provides more for the student body and their future success.” 

While she’ll always cherish her memories of living in the historic Herman Crown Center, Guazzini cites the need for new facilities like the Wabash Building as well as the continual need to invest in programs and curricula.
Throughout her life, Guazzini has always found time to be involved with her school, her community and her work. She encourages others to know that same gratification by helping today’s students by giving to the University, mentoring a student or volunteering in some meaningful way.
“My fellow alums should know that they don’t have to give a lot to make a difference. It’s our collective support that has a huge impact. It took me a long time to give back because I didn’t think my small gift would count for much. But it’s the annual gifts that come in year after year that bolster services to students. Small gifts can be powerful.

Fostering Leadership & Engagement

The Guazzinis are no strangers to the impact their giving has on our students — they have consistently supported Roosevelt's annual funds since 2010, and they personally set a goal to establish a named scholarship. 

“I can think of no better cause than to give back to the school that gave so much to me.”

In September 2021, Jessica and Paolo formally established the Guazzini Student Leadership & Engagement Awards Fund. They worked closely with Jared G. Fritz-McCarty, director of development, and Jamar Orr, vice president of student affairs, in order to determine how their gift could be most impactful and support other University initiatives. 

The award program recognizes the accomplishments and involvement of Roosevelt's finest student leaders — students who display an unwavering commitment to the success of the larger community, and students who stand out among others because of their own service, engagement and leadership on campus. 

The program will present six students with awards each year, with each receiving a scholarship to assist with educational expenses.

The Guazzini Student Leadership Award recognizes one junior each spring. The recipient will have an outstanding record of involvement — both in a participatory and leadership role. The student's commitment to the University's mission is visible day-to-day, through their service, academic success and personal growth. The recipient will receive a $1,000 scholarship during their senior year. 

The Guazzini First-Year Student Engagement Award honors five first-year students for their accomplishments and involvement throughout the first-year experience. These recipients have a strong understanding of the University's mission and are passionate about student engagement. This recognition will ideally encourage each awardee to pursue additional leadership opportunities throughout the remainder of their time at Roosevelt. Each student will receive a $200 scholarship during their sophomore year. 


A group of women celebrating graduation form Roosevelt

Scholarship Initiative for Black Students  

The LeArthur Dunlap Scholarship for African American & Veteran Students is one of six scholarships included in the University's new Scholarship Initiative for Black Students. These funds all uniquely recognize Roosevelt's commitment to equity and attainment, and help to ensure the success of our Black student community. 

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