Duquesne Society Member Spotlight - John and Pam Barsotti
John (B'88) and Pam (B'91) Barsotti are not only new members to the Duquesne Society, but they are also soon to be parents of an incoming freshman this fall. John, who is Chief Investment Officer of Laurel and Colcom Foundations, and Pam, who is Owner and Director of Borelli's Dance Gallery, Inc., took a few moments to share what makes Duquesne special to them and why they choose to support their alma mater.
Why did you decide to attend Duquesne?
JOHN: I grew up in Pittsburgh and had a desire to stay local. Schools in rural locations had beautiful campuses and unique appeals, but events and experiences outside of the classroom seemed limited to me. Duquesne's feel was immediately different. I found it easy to forget that I was so close to the center of a city as Duquesne had the "campus feel" I was looking for while being close to city amenities.
PAM: I also had a desire to stay local knowing that I wanted to have an opportunity to get to know the area better. I remember the search process being a little overwhelming and my guidance counselor telling me that I ought to give Duquesne serious consideration. The business school had a wonderful accounting program and the campus also had a size and feel that felt very comfortable to me.
What groups or organizations were you involved with as a student?
JOHN: Initially I commuted and then moved onto campus as an upperclassman. I appreciated the outreach and activities Duquesne offered the commuter community before I moved into the Cricklewood Apartments (now Brottier Hall). I met many new people and began to get involved with Greek Life, becoming an Honorary Brother of the Gamma Phi Fraternity. I also participated in an internship program through the business school that I credit to this day for my start.
PAM: I lived on campus my first three years at Duquesne. St. Anne's and Towers were my home away from home. I made many great friends and joined the Delta Zeta Sorority during my freshman year. I participated in all of the events such as fall Carnival and Greek Sing along with everything in between. I interned in a work study opportunity in the business development office of the University. Between business classes and work, let's just say I spent a lot of time in Rockwell Hall!
How did you meet?
PAM: In 1986-87 a group of enterprising young women decided to start a new local sorority on campus with the hope of becoming nationally recognized. Through tenacity and hard work, the chapter was successfully recognized by the national Delta Zeta organization. John was the "Sweetheart" of the sorority when I pledged as a freshman. We met at a party the night I officially accepted my "bid" to pledge.
JOHN: The title of "Sweetheart" was an honor for me. There a certain amount of hijinks that went along with the role that I fully embraced. That said, I also appreciated the tremendous experience it was to get to know that group of talented young women who "dared to be different" and start something completely new. I am a few years older than Pam and we did not date until after I graduated. We ran into each other off campus and she invited me to come back to her sorority Christmas formal. I knew I would enjoy seeing everyone again and I guess the dance worked out okay - we will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this fall!
What were your most memorable experiences at Duquesne?
JOHN: Fall Carnival of my senior year would definitely top the list. Getting my Gamma Phi letters was also a memory that I will never forget, not to mention participating in Greek Sing and Dance Marathons in the ballroom. For those of us who graduated in the 80's - who could ever forget Father B's marriage class? I enjoyed his amazingly accurate (in retrospect) lectures. Who can forget his huge smile as he rolled his big briefcase down "Centennial Walk" that carried all of the notes he would attach to the hooks in front of class for all of us to write down?
PAM: Pledging the Delta Zetas was definitely a rewarding experience. I really got to know some great women and had a wonderful time. Highlights were living on the "wing," choreographing Greek Sing dance numbers on the steps of the ballroom that led down to the stage and having a lead in our fall Carnival skit when we partnered with the ATO's.
What motivates you to give back to your alma mater?
BOTH: We have so much to be grateful for because of Duquesne University. Obviously there would be no "us" if we had not met there, so clearly that is a huge reason to say thank you. But bigger than that is the history and prestige our degrees have given to us. Duquesne is a place where young men and women are shaped to go out and become something. They represent ideals that are not easily duplicated on other campuses. We are truly grateful to have experienced that. We are also life long "Pittsburghers" and remember headlines from the 1970's as local industries closed their doors and communities struggled. Fast forward to today and Pittsburgh has become "cool" again. The University and its alumni have played an enormous role in the development of this region and we are incredibly grateful for that as well.
You will be the parents of an incoming freshman this fall - what words of wisdom will you share with your child as they begin their time at Duquesne?
JOHN: Our oldest son, Jonathan, will be an incoming freshman in the School of Education and we are very excited. It is certainly a different experience looking at Duquesne through the eyes of a parent. The best advice I could ever give is to focus on "pace and balance." Work hard to prioritize what is important and maintain a sense of urgency to avoid having to play catch up. At the same time savor the experience of meeting new people and experiencing new things away from home. If you can successfully balance work and fun, you'll have a great first year of school!
PAM: A big part of college is the opportunity to leave home for the first time and strike out on your own. While I know it will be a very exciting time for him, I appreciate the guidance and nurturing environment Duquesne provides for mind and soul. My advice is that he gain an understanding that his teachers and advisors are focused on preparing him for a career and future outside of school. He chose Duquesne because it offered smaller class sizes, but it is ultimately it up to him to get to know his teachers and advisors and become familiar with the resources and options available to him.