Retired teacher of Italian earns Ph.D. degree at age 77

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By JENNIFER AMATO
Staff Writer

OLD BRIDGE — At 77 years old, a retired teacher of Italian from Old Bridge High School (OBHS) was the most senior graduate to receive her Ph.D. degree during the 250th Rutgers University Commencement Ceremony.

During the convocation on May 13 from the Graduate School of New Brunswick, reader Dean Wasserman said of Ida Marinzoli, “This candidate is graduating with the distinction of being the most senior of our more than 16,900 graduates this year.”

Marinzoli, a resident of Old Bridge, initiated the Italian language program at OBHS in 1974 with 10 students, but when she retired in 2004, the Italian program was the second largest in New Jersey.

“I always felt that education is the most valuable asset one can have. As an immigrant, I had to balance work, marriage, children, old parents and a teaching career. Going to school at night and working daytime was my routine. Pursuing a Ph.D. was just a continuation in academics,” she said, noting that she first majored in Spanish and minored in Russian upon graduating from Hunter College in New York in 1969.  She also earned a master’s degree in human development from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1983.

Upon her retirement, she continued with academics and enrolled as a graduate student for a doctorate degree at the Department of Italian at Rutgers University. She traveled to different countries to research the subject of her dissertation, “Unresolved Conflicts: Identity, Guilt and Betrayal in Literature.”

In addition, she had a chance to experience teaching college students at Rutgers.

“I have already done some presentations on identity issues especially at the borders of Trieste, Italy, Slovenia and old Yugoslavia at the university level and in private clubs. I am planning to write some articles and a book on hybrid identity, which is very much a part of who I feel I am,” she said.

Marinzoli offered a message of it never being too late to chase your dream, especially to women who are often engaged in raising a family, helping older parents and caring for grandchildren.

“It felt like waking up from a long dream,” she said after the commencement ceremonies on May 15.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@gmnews.com.