In September 1974, Thomas LaGuidice needed to fill a few more elective credit hours before graduating the following year with his economics degree at SJC Brooklyn, so he picked an “easy” class at random: Introduction to Psychology.
As fate would have it, his serendipitous decision led him to meet Caroline Donovan LaGuidice ’79 — his future wife.
Ms. LaGuidice, who earned an SJC Brooklyn psychology degree, was still a high school student at St. Angela Hall Academy in Brooklyn, but she enrolled in the introductory course at the College to get some college credits out of the way early. Mr. LaGuidice sat next to her in class, and they connected almost immediately.
“Tom said he was kind of bored with the class, so he’d start drifting off and look over my shoulder to look at the notes,” Ms. LaGuidice recalled, with a laugh. “That’s how we started talking. We would talk before and after class.”
After the semester ended, they went on their first date — dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn. The spark between them intensified as they continued dating, but Ms. LaGuidice wanted to wait to get married until after she completed undergraduate studies. Mr. LaGuidice waited, but not much longer than graduation.
The SJC Sweethearts wed in June 1979 — just 11 days after Ms. LaGuidice’s commencement.
Forming a St. Joseph’s College Family
The LaGuidices live in Staten Island, where they raised two sons, Mike and Maicol, who both attended SJC Brooklyn. Ms. LaGuidice said they didn’t push their boys to attend their alma mater, but that their children chose the College after hearing their parents gush about the good times they had on campus, the tight-knit community and the dedicated professors.
“It always felt like family…” said Mr. LaGuidice, who spent most of his free time on campus hanging out in the recreation room. “It was enjoyable. I felt like I had a good education; the teachers were great and cared about the students.”
“You really felt like the professors had a personal interest in the students,” added Ms. LaGuidice, who preferred to spend her free time on campus socializing with friends in the cafeteria. “They wanted to see people do well. The professors really enjoyed teaching; it wasn’t just a job for them.”
After college, Mr. LaGuidice worked for the Liberty Mutual insurance company, and later opened his own business. Ms. LaGuidice continued her education, earning a master’s degree in industrial psychology before working in the human resources field.
Clinton Hill Brings Back Old Memories
SJC Brooklyn was a much different place when the LaGuidices attended in the ’70s. Mr. LaGuidice was among the first cohorts of men to attend the College after it became coeducational in 1969.
“When I went, there were only seven guys in the whole school,” Mr. LaGuidice recalled. “I was 5-foot-6, but I was able to play on the men’s basketball team. I was a stoic!”
The SJC Sweethearts still keep in touch with the College, through events hosted by the Office of Alumni Engagement. They especially enjoy attending reunions and spring luncheons.
Returning to the campus always brings a rush of joy and memories of the beginning moments of their relationship. Back then, they loved dining at Joe’s Place, a small Italian restaurant that sat on Waverly Avenue behind Tuohy Hall before it closed. At the restaurant, they could get a pasta dish for just $1.25, Mr. LaGuidice recalled.
While the sweethearts still love to dine out, they are staying home this Valentine’s Day because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. LaGuidice is cooking — Ms. LaGuidice says he is “something of a gourmet cook” — and they plan to pop open a bottle of champagne for the occasion.