When Justine Gizzi enrolled at St. Thomas Aquinas College, she planned on pursuing a career in business. It wasn’t until she began working as a tutor in STAC’s Center for Academic Excellence throughout her junior and senior years that she found a passion for helping others both academically and emotionally.
After graduating in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Management with Minors in Marketing and Performing Arts, Justine decided to continue her education to become an educator, receiving a Masters’s Degree in Teaching in 2020. “STAC helped me find my career path since I switched from business bachelor to my education master with a smooth transition since I had enough mathematics credits to begin right away,” she explains.
Her decision to switch career paths definitely paid off, as she finds great fulfillment in being an educator, stating that “the most rewarding part about being a teacher is when students finally achieve something they have been struggling with, having that ‘aha’ moment where the light bulb goes off and they get excited about understanding their learning!” In 2020, she began teaching 7th-grade mathematics as a substitute teacher, while also working with the Special Education department to ensure that all students were provided with a learning environment that met their needs. This upcoming school year, Justine will be starting a new job as a Special Education Teacher at Pearl River Middle School, which she couldn’t be more excited about. “I am looking forward to meeting my students and helping them academically, socially, and emotionally,” she exclaims.
Justine has had a life-long love for music and the performing arts.“I grew up in the music world, participating in chorus, marching band, and performing arts all the way from elementary school through STAC’s performing arts program,” she says. “I loved every second of being able to perform music/theatre and it truly provided me a helpful foundation for becoming a teacher and working with students every day!”
At STAC, she was able to explore all of her passions and found ways to combine her interests through extracurricular activities and internships; as an undergraduate, she worked as an intern in the business office at Stage Left Children’s Theatre, where she helped to manage and market the productions. Additionally, as part of her business undergraduate program, she interned at Technical Traffic Consultants in Congers. Despite pursuing three different fields of study at once, she also found the time to participate in many extracurricular activities, including STACAPELLA (which she founded and served as the President of during her time at STAC), The Laetare Players, Alpha Phi Omega, and STAC Ambassadors. She was able to take all of this on with the help of her professors, who she says each “provided unique support to educate and help guide me to where I am today.”
Justine chose to attend STAC after earning a spot in the school’s Honors program and was drawn to its small size and close proximity to her hometown. She advises current students to “get as much experience as possible that you can during college, utilize STAC’s resources in the career development office,” and “make connections and be yourself! Attend the career/job event and use LinkedIn to your advantage.”
Justine resides in Pearl River, and in her free time, she enjoys listening to Imagine Dragons, rooting for the New York Yankees, and playing with her dog, a two-year-old Maltese named Gizmo. Her own academic journey is not done yet, as she hopes to take more graduate education courses in the future with the goal of working towards salary advancement, as well as receiving her tenure.