Buzzelli family entertains at guest speaker series


Photo Credit: (RMU Sentry Media)

It was a homecoming of sorts for two of the three speakers of Robert Morris University’s Diversity Speaker Series on October 24 at the Rogal Chapel.

In recognition of Italian Heritage Month, RMU graduates Robert and Armand Buzzelli (Sr.), along with brother Anthony, a Penn State graduate, spoke to both students and staff about how being a part of an Italian family in Pittsburgh made them into the people they are today.

“Our family is a very proud family. We’re family-orientated, whereas most folks are only worried about working,” said Robert, who is the executive vice-president of Allegheny Valley Bank. “To this day, I haven’t forgotten that.”

The natives of the city’s Bloomfield neighborhood spoke about the importance of family, education, community, and food in an Italian household, and how these aspects played an important role in their lives growing up.

Anthony, former vice chairman of Deloitte & Touche, said that after returning from a recent trip to Italy, he realized how much his home life reflected that of a typical Italian family.

“There were a lot of people living in our house growing up and there weren’t a lot of bedrooms, so you just kind of found a place to sleep.  Don’t get me wrong though, it was terrific,” he said. “There was nothing negative about it and until you travel the world and see other countries, you don’t quite understand the impact of that.”

Anthony and Armand’s father immigrated to the United States during the Great Depression and settled in the steel town of Vandergrift because of relatives that lived in the area.

“Here were people who gave up whatever they had to go someplace new, just because they had connections there,” explained Anthony, who also served on the board for Penn State’s Smeal College of Business and UCLA’s School of Public Affairs.

Armand, whose son is RMU’s Director of Campus Recreation, explained how his father taught him the importance of having a strong work ethic.

“My dad always carried a chip on his shoulder. It made him stronger and he instilled that into us and taught us to be good people,” the manager of North American RtP operations for Alcoa said. “We didn’t know we were poor. We had our family and that was the main thing.”

All three men were pushed by their parents to not only attend college, but to also be a considerate person, and Robert said that that has stuck with him throughout his life.

“The most important thing to my mother was that I got an education, that I’m working and eating, and above all else, that I’m respectful. Everything else doesn’t happen without those things.”

Anthony said that the reason his brother and cousin were pushed towards getting an education was because their parents never had the opportunity to do so.

“Our father never made it past the sixth grade and our mother dropped out in eighth grade, so they pushed us towards school” he added. “Our education and the environment in which he grew up in really made the difference.”