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For Alum Fabio Iucolino, Mercer Holds Key to Education and Success


West Windsor, N.J. – Born and raised in Sicily, Italy, Mercer alum Fabio Iucolino ’97 (A.A., Humanities and Social Science) was slow to start his education, but quick to embrace it once he was on the path to success.

With few job prospects in his native country, Iucolino came to the U.S. as a teenager in 1987, and worked in the restaurant business in East Windsor  with his brothers for several years.  “I worked hard, sometimes over 80 hours a week, hoping I would establish a good future for myself,” he said.  But something inside kept telling him that he could do more.

“I kept hearing an inner voice telling me that restaurant work wasn’t the right thing to do at this time in my life,” he said, adding that, year after year, the fear of failure made him procrastinate about going back to school.

Finally, in 1995, Iucolino decided to take the first step and go to MCCC’s James Kerney Campus to see what it would take to earn a GED.  He was concerned when he found out about the time commitment involved, especially since he needed to continue working while going to school.  He credits Barbara Jefferson, assistant dean of enrollment and student services at JKC, for helping provide him with the flexible scheduling he needed to start his education.

“It took a lot of hard work and extreme dedication,” Iucolino said, attributing some of his drive to the mentoring of James Snyder, his GED instructor, who continually pushed him to succeed.

Iucolino soon discovered that his fears of not succeeding in school were unfounded.  In a matter of months, he had earned his GED. “It made me realize that there were other opportunities out there for me besides the restaurant business,” he said.

Mercer alum Fabio Iucolino '97 works for Firmenich, a perfumery and flavor company, and is often given the opportunity to travel to the branch office in Switzerland.
Iucolino recently spoke at MCCC's Male Alumni Forum, where he told students and staff the story of his own success after starting his education at Mercer.

Iucolino then enrolled in college classes at MCCC, and graduated two years later with honors.  “I experienced top-notch learning from the very best instructors,” he said, adding that he has come back for additional courses over the years related to his work.

After Mercer, Iucolino enrolled at The College of New Jersey, earning a bachelor’s degree in History.  Six months before he graduated, he was hired to work as a Lotus Notes Specialist for PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York.  “It was a dream come true,” he said.

A year later, he was hired by Firmenich in Plainsboro, a world-renowned perfumery and flavor company that manufactures in 52 countries.  He soon realized a master’s degree would help him climb the corporate ladder more quickly, and after six years of studying, he earned his MBA from Rider University in 2009.   

Now, after 11 years at Firmenich, Iucolino is the business services manager, leading a team of 12 employees on global business systems processes.  He is often given the opportunity to travel to the company’s branch office in Switzerland.

Given Mercer’s meaningful role in his own success, last year Iucolino started teaching business and computer classes in MCCC’s Center for Continuing Studies (CCS) and for corporate clients at the Mercer Institute of Management and Technology Training.  “Coming back to Mercer was like coming home,” he said.  “Mercer was where everything started for me.”

Iucolino's professionalism, motivation, and initiative are all great assets to Mercer and its students, according to Read Langan, assistant director of CCS and programming manager for computer training. "He’s patient, understanding, and injects a level of wit into the lesson that engages the students, and increases their comfort levels," she said. "We're fortunate to have him as a teacher."

As for long-term goals, Iucolino is considering going to law school.  “Whether I’m successful or not, I’m going to give it my all,” he said, adding that he will never again let the fear of failure stop him from achieving his goals.

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