Meet Alumna Sabina Porcaro Petillo

Alumna Sabina Porcaro Petillo attended John Cabot from September 1973 to June 1975. She graduated from Rutgers University in New Jersey, and then attended medical school in Italy and the United States. A community leader, Sabina is currently affiliated with a medical center in New Jersey where she chairs two committees, has participated in a health mentorship program for high school students, and served as a board member of the United Way in Newark, New Jersey. She also is a founding member of a cancer support group WINGS: Women, Inspiring, Nurturing, Giving, Strength and Support.

Sabina Porcaro Petillo

Sabina Porcaro Petillo

Tell us about your background.
I am the daughter of an Italian immigrant father and first-generation Italian mother. I was born and grew up in Newark, NJ until I graduated from high school, then I moved with my family to Rome, Italy. I heard about John Cabot International College, as it was called then, through friends. The College had been founded in 1972 and was affiliated with Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio. At that time fewer than 100 students from several different countries were enrolled in John Cabot. The rigorous and varied academic curriculum included class instruction, on site lectures, and travel to various cities in Italy.

What was JCU like during the years you attended?
It was an exciting experience. The faculty consisted of local and international professors, all distinguished in their respective fields. During my two years at John Cabot, I met lifelong friends whom I cherish to this day.

How did your experience studying at JCU and living in Rome enrich you?
It was an incredibly enriching experience living in the Eternal City, surrounded by many different cultures and languages. My years in Rome provided a wonderful opportunity for me to learn more about my heritage, and to embrace the Italian culture and language. Living in Rome also offered the opportunity for me to learn about and respect various other cultures. My appreciation for my years and connection to John Cabot led to the formation of a JCU study abroad program for current Sacred Heart University students. Our students return from their time in Rome enriched, fulfilled and appreciative of the experience at JCU as well as enjoying the opportunity to travel throughout Europe. I hold my years at John Cabot and in Rome close to my heart.

You recently I received an award from the National Organization of Italian American Women (NOIAW) Connecticut chapter. Tell us about this achievement and the award.
I was truly humbled to be considered for this honor and proud to acknowledge my Italian heritage. The mission of NOIAW is to create a thriving and inclusive community that embraces Italian culture and supports the personal and professional advancement of its members. During my acceptance remarks I highlighted the importance of learning about and understanding one’s culture and traditions so that one can understand, respect, and appreciate other cultures and traditions. This is a value that was enhanced by my John Cabot experience and my time in Rome and has continued throughout my medical career. It serves as a foundation for creating a community of mutual respect and understanding for everyone.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I had the privilege of attending the John Cabot University 50th Anniversary Gala in New York City on March 28, 2023. It was a wonderful event filled with enthusiasm and admiration for JCU. The honoree and philanthropist Rocco Commisso brought a lot of great energy to the evening with wonderful support from his friends and colleagues. I was fortunate to be seated at a table with members of the John Cabot family, who embraced me and made me so very proud to be an alumna of this fine University. I met various members of the JCU community including alumni who are all wonderful professionals dedicated to John Cabot University. I also received John Cabot University’s The First 50 Years commemorative book. It is outstanding. The theme is so appropriate and highlights the accomplishments and the spectacular journey of JCU.