STILL INSPIRING MARCO GIOVENGO “Seize the day,” “follow your dreams,” and “live in the moment” – It’s the kind of advice everyone hears, but how many people actually live that way, every day? Marco Giovengo ’12 did, say the family and friends of the late Robert Morris University senior who died on March 16, 2012, just weeks before his graduation ceremony. He had muscular dystrophy and related health problems, but his mother, Donna Iannelli Giovengo ’76, says he didn’t let those define him. Rather, Marco strove to live an independent, successful, and in many ways ordinary life as a college student. And he loved every minute of it.
To thank the RMU community for helping their son enjoy such a rich college experience, Jude and Donna Giovengo created the Marco Giovengo Memorial Fund. Through several fundraisers and many individual donations, they plan to begin offering a scholarship this fall, to be awarded to a sport management major who demonstrates leadership and commitment to volunteering, just like Marco. Marco arrived at RMU already having accomplished quite a bit. He was honored with several awards for his volunteer work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He was in the band at North Allegheny High School and attended prom. Donna believed strongly that her bright, talented child should go to college, but she admits she was a “nervous wreck” when Marco left home to come to RMU. She was quickly put at ease. “It was the perfect fit. From day one, he just fell into place. The students just totally took him in,” Donna says. Marco required a ventilator, motorized wheelchair, and nursing support, and lived in a fully accessible apartment in Lexington Hall. “It gave Marco the privacy to expand as a young man, as an adult. He just blossomed there.” Marco was very active in campus life. He pledged Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity and became chapter secretary, was a drummer with the RMU marching band and pep band, and was elected a member of the 2011 Homecoming Court. He regularly attended practices and games of many RMU sports teams. “He always just wanted to be one of the guys,” says close friend Danny Bonaventura ’13. “He wanted to live a normal life. He loved the independence, he loved living on his own.” Marco grew up loving baseball, playing in a league for kids with disabilities and attending many Pittsburgh Pirates games with his family. He had just interviewed for summer internships, including one with the Pirates, when he died. The young man clearly influenced people who knew him, and many who didn’t. Two days after Marco’s death, a grieving Danny wrote a blog post about his friend, describing a passionate and courageous person who talked trash during video games, always cheered for the underdog, and readily told friends “I love you.” The touching tribute spread rapidly around campus, with at least 3,000 views. At the funeral, mourners included fraternity brothers, bandmates, and sports teams. “We thought they were all inspiring him so much, and they all told us how he inspired them,” Donna says.