Dominic D’Arrigo has always been proud of his son Anthony, but Thursday will be a little extra special in his household, because he’ll be walking the Commencement procession with his son, as a Class of 2022 graduate. The elder D’Arrigo, 53, a retiree from the New York City Fire Department, decided to pursue a lifelong dream and return to college and did so alongside Anthony.

“My first classes were in 1988, back then at St. George and the Sunnyside campus,” said Mr. D’Arrigo with a chuckle. He did eventually take credits in earnest in preparation to enter the FDNY, then took a class “here and there” during his tenure until he made the decision to go full-time and finish in 2022 alongside Anthony. “He’s an inspiration,” Mr. D’Arrigo said of his son. “He’s the true academic in the family. He’s the reason why I wanted to do this. I’ve been riding his intellectual coattails for many years now.”  

Dad’s decision was just fine with Anthony, who decided to attend CSI after graduation from St. Peter’s High School. His decision to major in Philosophy and Political Science was made pretty early in his studies, as he will look to law school next.

“CSI is such a great school and you have some of the best lawyers who not only attend CSI but also teach here. Looking at the major track and my career goals made the decision pretty easy,” said Anthony. 

When he found out his father wanted to return to the classroom to complete his degree, it was Anthony who prompted Dad to change his major and pursue the same degree. “The decision to go back and major in Philosophy and Political Science was so I could be in the same classes as him. I even lost a few credits, but it was worth it, being in the same classroom as him.” 

So, beginning in 2020, the two set the course together to finish at the same time and took many of the same classes to boot. Although they live apart from one another, with classes starting in-person and then switching to remote to back to in-person, the two were virtually inseparable. 

“We could talk for hours after class, sometimes even longer than the class itself,” said Mr. D’Arrigo with a smile. “I never really looked at my father as my father in the classroom but more so my friend and an equal,” said Anthony. “He’s a very smart man, he’s great to be in class with, we agree on many things so it’s like having a second version of me bouncing ideas off of. He’s really a great partner to have with me through this journey.”

During a time when most college students are moving farther apart from their family nest and having a chance to gain more independence away from family, Anthony used the unique situation to strengthen the already strong bond he had with his father.

“I think most kids want to run away from their parents because they may be overbearing or they don’t trust them with responsibilities, which I think comes at that stage in life,” Anthony said. “My father imparted to me from Day One that it was up to me what sort of success I wanted to become and I think that parenting style naturally led us to a point where I don’t look at it like, ‘oh, my Dad is in class with me, or judging me,’ it’s like ‘Dom is in class with me,’ and it just feels like it’s just natural for him to be there.”

Smiling ear-to-ear while his son explains the dynamic, Mr. D’Arrigo agreed, noting how the time spent in the classroom became less and less about the subject material, and more about spending that time watching his son develop into the intellectual and scholar he has become. “I think it’s something Anthony can look back on fondly and something he can tell his kids about one day,” he said. “Blood is thick, and family is everything. We’re a very close family and this has just been a magical time for me enjoying the experience with him.”

The duo also knows that the classroom goes a long way with other family and friends. “They respect it,” said Mr. D’Arrigo. Anthony agreed saying, “Our whole family takes education seriously and is in school. It’s great to use your education to have meaningful conversations and I know my father excels at that. I think a lot of our friends and family see it as a great thing.”

The degrees and walking at Commencement tomorrow are certainly special for the D’Arrigos. There is the sheer excitement of graduation and the novelty of doing it together, but also a reflective space for both. For the elder D’Arrigo, a chance to see his son realize his full potential and the beginning of his future, and for Anthony, a moment to see his father fulfill a promise to himself he made long ago.

“Extremely proud moment,” said Mr. D’Arrigo simply. “Anthony has so much knowledge of the times and the world around him. He’s earned this day. He impresses me constantly.”

Anthony shared in the pride for his father, knowing all along that his dad would take this challenge head-on and walk this day with him. “For my father it’s par for the course,” he said. “He’s unstoppable. He’s so sharp and is one of the smartest people I know. For me this is not a surprise at all.”

When asked about whether Mr. D’Arrigo would follow the younger Anthony into law school, however, both father and son shared a hearty laugh. “My degree is going on my wall, and I’m leaving law school to the younger boys and girls,” said Mr. D’Arrigo.

No matter what the next chapter is for the D’Arrigos,  they will never forget their time spent at CSI, solidifying an already unbreakable bond between father and son.