Brooke Ariel Giarratano of Mountain Top, Pa., is part of a family of colonels. Her grandfather, Anthony Michael ’74, mother, Barbara Michael Giarratano ’89, and sister Tara Giarratano Morrison ’17 all attended Wilkes. When Giarratano was thinking of her college future, they encouraged her to wear blue and gold. But she was wary of continuing the family tradition of attending Wilkes.
“My main concern was that by attending Wilkes I would inevitably fall in my sister’s shadow., “ Giarratano says. She spent her first semester at another university and says she knew very early that she had made a mistake. She transferred to Wilkes – much to the delight of her family.
“My family told me to enjoy every second of it because it was going to be the best four years of my life and they were so right,” she says. “After transferring from a larger university, my first visit here at Wilkes really solidified my choice. After meeting with my potential advisors and university instructors, I knew this was the place for me. I was hesitant, but by the end of my first week here I knew with all my heart that I made the right choice. There is no place I would have rather gone to school. I loved how small the class sizes were and I felt like it was the perfect place to pursue my education. I guess you can say going to Wilkes was just meant to be for me.”
After transferring, Giarratano found her place in the Colonel family. Four years later, she’s completing her senior year as a secondary education and history major with a minor in women’s and gender studies. Giarratano is student teaching in spring 2019 at Hanover Area Junior Senior High School.
“Although challenging, these four years have been incredibly rewarding,” she says. “My sister recommended professors to me, and told me I would make life-long relationships. The friends I have made here at Wilkes — especially my friends in the education department — are honestly like my sisters. I feel so blessed that Wilkes brought me so many amazing people.”
Giarratano says she majored in education because she wanted to give back to the educators she had throughout her life and follow in their footsteps.
“The teachers and school counselors that I had in high school truly molded me into the person I am today,” Giarratano says. “The positive impact those educators had on my life drew me to teaching as a career. How incredible would it be if I was able to inspire someone the way I was?”
Though most of her time is spent preparing for her future as teacher, Giarratano also is active on campus. This month she is the co-director of “The Vagina Monologues,” a Wilkes production that performs on Feb. 22 and 23. She was part of the performance as a sophomore and now she is leading the 2019 production along with co-director Olivia Caraballo.
“I was so drawn to the purpose of empowering women and fighting for women’s rights that I wanted to be as involved as possible,” she says of her work on the show. “Upon asking Dr. (Mia) Briceno (assistant professor of communication studies) how I could further involve myself, she asked if I would co-direct the this year. I was over the moon!”
Giarratano says she keeps a very “detailed planner” and participates in many other Wilkes activities. She is a current member of the Education Club, Kappa Delta Pi International Education Honor Society and Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society. She was an intern for the women and gender studies department last spring and is currently serving as a tutor for the department of social science.
She wants incoming Wilkes students and underclassmen to realize their Colonel potential and not to waste a second while they are at Wilkes.
“I would tell students how unbelievably lucky they are to be attending Wilkes,” she says. They should soak in every second and learn from everyone they can. Sit in the very front of class so they never miss anything and try something new every semester. I would also tell them to be true to themselves, and to be as open as possible to meeting new people.”
Update: Giarratano graduated in May 2019. She is currently employed by Abington Heights High School where she teaches history and psychology.