Rizzo Remembers Hometown School

Growing up in Hoboken, Annmarie Rizzo ’86 didn’t need to go far to get far with her Stevens degree.

Annmarie Rizzo has found inspiration in her family, faith, and alma mater to lead a meaningful life full of philanthropy.

Her journey to Stevens took just a few blocks. A Hoboken native, Annmarie is the daughter of a carpenter from Italy and a Hoboken-born mother who worked as a secretary for school board. She grew up wanting to attend her hometown college, both because it was close and prestigious. “As a kid I always viewed Stevens as an elite school,” Annmarie said. “There was even something to it being the highest elevation in Hoboken, like it was at the top in more ways than one. It was always a dream for me to study there.”

After she graduated, Annmarie joined New York Telephone, the company that would later become Verizon. She started as an engineer and retired as a director of network operations. Annmarie credits Stevens with preparing her for a successful career, and she hopes current students learn the same skills she did during her time on campus. “Problem-solving skills make a huge impact in the work environment. No matter the discipline you choose, you’re always going to encounter some type of roadblock in the work you’re doing. Stevens does a fabulous job in helping build problem-solving skills to overcome those roadblocks.”

Annmarie, who earned a graduate degree in 1992, has given back to Stevens by serving as a trustee and as co-chair of the Edwin A. Stevens Society. She established the Rizzo Family Excellence in Engineering Term Scholarship, and she has funded historic preservation projects, notably a restored Stevens family bible now on display in the Samuel C. Williams Library.

She also contributed to renovating the former Colonial House into the Ruesterholz Admissions Center, now the first stop for prospective students when they visit campus. “As students and parents come to visit, hopefully to make the choice to attend Stevens, I think it’s very important that we have an attractive admissions center that shows everything we offer.”

Annmarie is confident the university is on sound footing and that the Power of Stevens will enable it to achieve its strategic goals. "We're competitive with not only our peer institutions but also many of the Ivy League schools. We're very much in demand, which has been demonstrated by the dramatic increase in applicants. All our rankings are skyrocketing, and I think there's more to come, especially with the undoubted success we're going to have with this campaign."

Annmarie continues to live in the Mile Square, and she remains devoted to St. Ann, a parish founded in 1900 to minister to Hoboken’s growing Italian community. Annmarie is currently assisting in restoration of the elegant church her maternal grandfather helped build in the 1920s.

Whether she gives to her beloved church, her close-knit community, or her cherished alma mater, Annmarie will continue to find meaning in her philanthropy. “I truly believe in giving back. Everything we've been given is a blessing from God. I too was recipient of a scholarship at Stevens, and I think I owe that back to future generations, for them to be recipient of that same blessing that I received.”