By: Ed Leiser '04
Four years ago, Nick LoMaglio ’04 had a simple idea - how can we give our students the tools they need to be successful in college and beyond?
Known simply as the “ABC’s Program" (Professional ABCs: Advice Beyond the Classroom), it has become an important staple of the St. Rita experience for many students.
The mission of the Advice Beyond the Classroom program (a nonprofit organization focused on professional development education) is simple: To “manufacture luck.” Nick and his team instruct Ritamen that luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity; this program is designed to help students establish the foundation of their future professional success.
The program, established in 2014, is now a networking giant featuring over 75 alumni, 50+ mentors and advisors and 25 current students in the sophomore, junior and senior classes. Nick LoMaglio, a St. Rita board member and father of four, has assembled an All-Star team of St. Rita faculty, board of directors members, and various outside parties in the business, financial and marketing sectors.
The program is competitive, both in gaining entry and in sustaining success. To obtain a position in the ABC’s program, a student completes a rigorous application and must receive recommendations from St. Rita teachers and staff. If awarded a position, the members of the program are ranked throughout the year and meet on Monday mornings at 6:45 a.m. (even though the school day officially begins at 8:30 a.m.).
Students are offered a core curriculum of professional skills such as the art of small talk, time management, teaming, etc. Students are ranked and scored on team and individual activities and treat the ABC’s program like any other at St. Rita.
For the hardest-working and most dedicated students, there are significant rewards and advantages that can be achieved. Some of these opportunities include college scholarships, networking opportunities, off-site trips to local investment firms, marketing agencies, and manufacturing firms. In years past, groups have visited the Chicago White Sox, Baker-Tilly Accounting Firm and JB Industries, to name a few.
On May 9, Mr. LoMaglio and the ABC’s board of directors held their annual awards dinner with a crowd of 150 in attendance in St. Rita’s Dining Hall. Current college students (and St. Rita/ABC’s alumni) were on-hand to speak to the audience, as well as the current students in the program. The current students spoke on what they learned this year, including how to network, the importance of staying persistent, relationship building, teamwork and efficient communication.
Several students received recognition, including sophomore Connor Earley (Christ the King), who gained automatic entry into next year’s ABC’s class.
Junior Michael Henze (Everest Academy, Lemont) was named Managing Partner for the 2018-19 school year and will work with Nick one-on-one to develop course curriculum and layout and topics for the class to address.
Senior Liam Connolly (St. Barnabas) was the top winner for the year, earning a $2,000 scholarship along the way, which he’ll take to Kansas University next year.
As mentioned above, members of the ABC program also work together as teams and are scored based on performance of team-based activities and competitions. The top scoring team this year was Team Amazon and was awarded a week-long externship this summer with Mr. LoMaglio. Team members consisted of seniors Steve Viz and Jake Zylman, juniors Chris Bruglio, Stedmon Ihejirika and Kyle Somrek, and sophomores Earley and Josh Joiner.
The week-long externship experience consists of a rotational program that will give them exposure to some of the top Chicago area businesses.
The St. Rita Family is grateful for the efforts of Nick LoMaglio, as well as fellow board members Jim Brasher ’71, Paul Dachota ’84, Sal Valela ’94, and teacher Dave Conrath (Hon.) Additional support comes from many sources, including Mrs. Ann Berzin, Mr. Bernie DelGiornio (Hon.), Mr. Brendan Duffy ’12, and Mr. Teddy McDermott ’16.
A main goal of the ABC Program—and of Nick’s personally—is to help young Ritamen find their career path and discover success. ABC’s professional development curriculum will give our students a leg-up on many of their competitors in college and the professional world. The real-life experience and skills being taught truly do go “beyond the classroom” at St. Rita.
A sincere “Thank you” to all involved!
For more information on the Advice Beyond the Classroom program, please visit their web site at: www.advicebeyondtheclassroom.org