CBA offers an excellent education, but its values last a lifetime. Here’s proof.
Published by the Times Union on October 2, 2019.
Christian Brothers Academy, a college preparatory middle and high school for boys in Albany, New York, challenges students to excel in academics, in athletics and in life.
They’re doing something right because 100% of its students are accepted to college, and it’s been that way since 1980. It’s doing something right in athletics because CBA holds numerous titles in basketball, football, track and field, and soccer. CBA’s award-winning band and high-ranking Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) also indicate it holds a recipe for success.
CBA students graduate with more than good grades and credentials, however. CBA’s core values—academics, athletics, brotherhood, faith and service—stay with students long after they graduate. By emphasizing these values, and by providing positive encouragement, CBA propels students to amazing careers.
Once they leave CBA’s safe, faith-based environment, they may feel out of sorts when they start college or their first full-time job. That’s okay. CBA alum have developed the focus, work ethic and commitment to overcome obstacles and thrive.
What does that look like in “real life?”
CBA alum attend Harvard, Princeton, and other top universities. They become astrophysicists, professional athletes, members of the New York State Assembly, surgeons and academic researchers. They lead companies and live lives with purpose, intention and service. And they stay connected with their CBA brothers for life.
Dr. Riccio initially thought he’d join the military. Toward the end of high school, an interest in medicine surfaced. “CBA gave me the opportunity to shadow a couple doctors in the area,” he says. “After that, I realized it was what I wanted to do. CBA fostered my desire to pursue medicine.”
After completing his bachelor’s degree in biology at Siena College in Loudonville, New York, Dr. Riccio earned his medical degree and completed a neurosurgery residency at Albany Medical College in Albany, New York. Additional training through an orthopedic spine surgery fellowship at New York University followed.
At Siena College, Dr. Riccio reconnected with some of his CBA classmates, which eased the transition to college. The tools he acquired kept him disciplined through many years of medical training.
“CBA instilled confidence that you could achieve anything you wanted, and a work ethic that allowed you to accomplish your goals,” says Dr. Riccio, who now works as a spine surgeon at Bone & Joint Center of Albany, New York. “Those concepts allowed me to be successful in college, medical school and beyond.”
From CBA Athlete to Emmy-Winning Filmmaker
Many students, at CBA and otherwise, plan for one direction and then take another. Garrett Fittizzi, ’96, accepted a job at NFL Films three weeks after graduating from Princeton University with a degree in Politics. His grounding in faith, cultivated at CBA, helped him navigate the transition from academic to professional life, as well as cope with the stress of learning skills.
His persistence paid off: As a producer for NFL Films, Fittizzi has been part of nine Emmy Award-winning sports programs, including HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” and Amazon Prime’s “All or Nothing.”
As a CBA freshman, Fittizzi adapted well to the rigors of a college-prep education. His brothers, Anthony (’93) and Rocky (’95), gave him “deep, clear footsteps to follow,” he says. All three also attended Princeton University.
“While we were all three-sport athletes at CBA, our parents did an incredible job of stressing academics before athletics,” he says. “Thanks to them, we all knew how to successfully budget our time between rigorous coursework and varsity football schedules once we got to Princeton.”
Fittizzi also credits his teachers and coaches for pushing him academically and helping him grow personally. “The standards set by teachers like Mr. Atkinson and Mr. Gormley let me know exactly what would be expected of me in a collegiate classroom,” he says.
“The discipline I learned from both the religious education and JROTC programs helped in all facets of behavior when trying to navigate an entirely new environment of personal freedom. Playing football under Coach Smith, who spent years on Union College’s staff, made the adjustment from high school to division-1 football much easier than it otherwise would have been.”
Coming Full Circle
Jason Keleher, PhD, (’94), spent five years in Silicon Valley and Chicago as a research scientist for high-tech companies before shifting to academia. He teaches at Lewis University, which is rooted in the Christian and Lasallian tradition like CBA.
Dr. Keleher’s research group studies nanoparticles and nanocomposites systems for a range of applications. Their work applies to wound management, water purification and even designing an aircraft windshield that better protects pilots from blinding lasers.
The CBA Way
As thousands of success stories have shown, CBA alum graduate not only with the academic knowledge to do well in Ivy League schools, but with the discipline and faith-rooted values to succeed in all facets of life.
“Keep moving and keep believing the hard work will be worth it,” Dr. Riccio advises.
Also, trust the process. As Dr. Keleher suggests, “Be part of the system because it will really help you grow. Learn the skills because what CBA offers is unlike anywhere else you’re going to go.”
Want to know more about life at CBA? Visit its Open House on Thursday, November 7, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Visit cbaalbany to learn more.