Donor Profile: Valerie Sisko ’94, MA’96

Donor Profile: Valerie Sisko ’94, MA’96

It was the summer between her sophomore and junior years of high school, when heading north for a Cape Cod vacation, that Valerie Sisko ’94, MA’96 toured Fairfield University.

The Sisko family’s neighbor, David Ceva ’89, was an alumnus and had loved his Fairfield experience. Fairfield was so near the family home in New Jersey, Valerie’s mother mused as the car merged onto the Merritt Parkway, that Valerie would be able to come home as often she liked.

“As we entered campus near the pond, I scooted up in my seat for a better view of the scenery,” Sisko said. “By the end of our visit, I was hooked, applied early decision, and the rest is history!”

Sisko, an English writing major with a double minor in psychology and management, also obtained a master’s degree in applied psychology from the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions at Fairfield. She then changed paths and went on to become a fundraiser, for Bellevue Hospital Center and then New York University’s Law School. More recently — in 2016 – Sisko launched a real estate investment company with her husband Tony Spatarella, Cardinal Real Estate Solutions.

A busy mom to her special needs son, A.J. (9), a volunteer for the PTA at his school, and also juggling eldercare responsibilities, Sisko’s life was bustling. Nevertheless, when a call from Fairfield University came with the request to volunteer for her 25th reunion, Sisko stepped up.

Jesuit ideals had a lot to do with shaping me. These guiding principles, cultivated by members of the University, summed up what my family and my high school experience had also instilled in me.

“I get a kick out of connecting with classmates and hearing about their past crushes, and I am hopeful we might have a few more Stagmates in our midst come June,” Sisko shared about serving in her role as Reunion Chair.

Aside from playing matchmaker, Sisko said it’s fun to reminisce about her own college career — whether it was hanging out with friends at the now closed local haunt, Sidetracks, or meeting for an advising session with Debnam Chappell, PhD, then assistant professor of English, whose teaching made a lasting impact.

“Jesuit ideals had a lot to do with shaping me. These guiding principles, cultivated by members of the University, summed up what my family and my high school experience had also instilled in me,” Sisko said.

To anyone who might be on the fence about making a reunion gift, Sisko offered: “When people are asked to make a gift, something else to consider is that the percentage of alumni who give back is a part of how the school is ranked. We want the highest number possible… our own people should have skin in the game.”

In closing, Sisko recalled that Rev. Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., president of the University at the time, “once said that there are very few questions in life to which the answer will always be the same for you… one of those is ‘Where did you go to college?’ — and you want to be able to answer with the same amount of pride that you had on the day you were accepted. After I heard him say that, I wrote it down on a napkin, and never forgot it.”