Wayne Carrozza (’71)
Imagine the pride Wayne Carrozza’s parents felt when he graduated cum laude from CBU in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English! He was the very first in the family to earn such an honor. His parents were thrilled but not surprised because they knew Wayne was born to lead a life of service to his country and his fellow human beings. The degree was only the beginning.
The son of a career Navy veteran, Wayne learned early about living a life of service. His parents were wonderful role models providing stability and a good Catholic upbringing. They instilled the values of personal dedication, pride in service, the need for education, and self-sacrifice in their son. When the time came for college, Wayne chose Christian Brothers College (now CBU) to pursue a quality education informed by the Lasallian values of faith, service, and community.
The decade of the seventies was tumultuous. The United States was embroiled in the Vietnam War, and as the war waged on in his junior year at CBU, Wayne felt compelled to apply for the Navy’s Reserve Officer Candidate Program. He was accepted and enlisted in March 1970. He worked through boot camp at the Naval Officer Candidate School during the summer of his junior year.
Upon return from his first foray in the Navy, Wayne married Elizabeth Ciulla. They moved into a tiny apartment in Memphis. She worked at Plough as a secretary, and he attacked his senior year at CBU while simultaneously taking Naval Correspondence Courses.
Wayne graduated in December of 1971 and was commissioned in the US Navy. Because of his educational background, he was assigned to the Defense Information School at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis for training as a Public Affairs Officer. However, the next assignment wasn’t in public affairs but on an aircraft carrier that performed air operations over Vietnam. Wayne worked for ten months on the USS America, overseeing a team responsible for munitions, fuel, and supply transfers at sea.
By the time Wayne completed his tour of duty in June of 1975, he and Liz had welcomed a baby daughter, Dianna. He remained in the Navy Reserves, but returned home to Memphis to be with his family and start a civilian career. Unfortunately, he returned to a job market flooded with Vietnam veterans and companies unwilling to consider four years of military experience as relevant. Wayne decided to return to CBU to obtain his teaching qualifications and to pursue education as a profession.
Wayne’s flexibility and experience helped land him a job at Bolton High School teaching English, French, and Journalism. He also coached football and softball and sponsored the French Club and the school newspaper. Wayne embraced the Lasallian principles. He influenced and supported students. He taught in a minority school with a lower graduation rate and low expectations for student success. He inspired them to dream big, study hard, and stay focused. His influence prompted several of his students to apply to CBU.
After the birth of his son, Christopher, Wayne decided to make some changes so he’d be able to spend more time with his growing family. He chose to teach science at Germantown Middle School, where he stayed for 15 years and helped develop a first-class science program to prepare students for success in high school. He later served as a Curriculum Coordinator for Shelby County Schools, but he missed the classroom and returned for a final three years of teaching.
Wayne remains a consistent supporter of CBU. He served on the National Alumni Board for eight years and during this time, he suggested to the administration that there was a unique opportunity to expand the curriculum and attract graduate students by offering a master’s degree program in educational administration and supervision to meet the needs of teachers who aspired to administrative state certification. The result was the Master of Science in Educational Leadership program, which CBU instituted in 2001. He has also participated in fundraising calling campaigns and has continued to attend various campus events until the advent of COVID.
Married 51 years, a father, and now a grandfather, Wayne remains a steadfast supporter of the Lasallian Principles for himself, his family, his students, and his friends. A retired Commander with the US Navy Reserves and a retired educator, these days he enjoys longtime college friendships and alumni activities at CBU. He learned to sail and achieved a lifelong dream of playing in a band. He and Liz are also heavily involved in community affairs.
There were many special moments at CBU that Wayne remembers with pride, but the proudest moment was one much like his parents experienced all those years ago. It is the memory of watching his daughter Dianna Carrozza Davis graduate with a BSBA in Marketing and his wife Liz graduate with an MBA on the same day in May of 1997.