May 13, 2024

One Family, Two Graduates, One Solution

Robert "Bobby" Amonitti, Jr., and the Charleston School of Law Dean Larry CunninghamCelebrating the achievements of more than 3,000* graduates, the families and friends of West Chester University students made multiple moments to remember this past weekend both on campus and in Philadelphia.

And one family of a graduating WCU student celebrated on Saturday, May 11, in South Carolina with a special event.

Before the traditional pomp and circumstance that comes with the annual graduation ceremony at Charleston School of Law, a small congregation of people gathered on stage in the McAlister Fieldhouse on the campus of The Citadel in Charleston, SC.

The group was there to celebrate two graduates: Alyssa Amonitti ’17 and Robert “Bobby” Amonitti, Jr., both from Oxford, PA. The former received her Juris Doctor from Charleston School of Law and the latter received his undergraduate degree from West Chester University. Thanks to the WCU Registrar’s Office and the dean of the law school, the special ceremony brought the entire family together for one memorable family celebration.

Earlier this spring, the Amonitti family didn’t believe there would be any way this could happen. With one child in Pennsylvania and the other in South Carolina and both ceremonies falling on the same day, they were torn on what to do.

 “They were planning for one parent to attend one graduation and the other would attend the other one,” said Alyssa. “I really encouraged my brother to go to his graduation, but he was indifferent to it. He just wanted the family to be together, which was selfless on his part.”

The Amonitti FamilyThere was no perfect solution, so Bobby decided to forgo his graduation and come to Charleston so the whole family could be together to celebrate.

While Alyssa appreciated her brother’s selfless nature, she wasn’t happy about the plan and decided to take a chance. She met with Charleston School of Law Dean Larry Cunningham and told him her family’s story. …

Dean Cunningham saw an opportunity to do something special for the Amonitti family.

“He was so excited,” said Alyssa. “I feel like our school has always fostered a great open door community. I felt like I could just walk in and tell him my story.”

… Alyssa said her little brother graduated high school during COVID and the traditional celebration was cancelled. The local TV station ran a slideshow of pictures for graduation. It was a nice gesture, but it wasn’t the same thing as hearing your name called, walking across the stage, being handed your diploma, and having your photo taken.

“It gave him that sense of being on the stage,” she said. “I do think the ceremony is really important because it allows people to mark an end point and take that next step forward.”

Bobby received his West Chester University degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. Alyssa earned her political science degree from WCU in 2017.

 “I am so thrilled, and I get emotional thinking about it, just because he deserves this moment too and it’s cool that Dean Cunningham graduates both of us on the same day and we have this moment forever,” said Alyssa, who is eight years older than her brother. “I have those memories, like being a caregiver for him growing up. I’m just happy that we get to share this moment. It bonds the two of us in a small way forever.”

The entire Amonitti family convened in Charleston late last week for a long weekend of celebration.

“Both parents are here, my fiancé’s parents, my grandpa, and my sister,” said Alyssa. “I couldn’t be happier and that’s what Bobby wanted.”

* This spring, West Chester University graduated 3,198 students: 2,421 undergraduate students and 777 graduate-level students. Combined with the numbers of graduates from the University’s fall commencement last December, WCU has graduated a total of 4,365 students (both undergraduate and graduate) for the academic year 2023-2024: 3,315 undergraduates and 1,050 graduates.

Story courtesy of Charleston School of Law.


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