Al Fatale ’04 still remembers his first class at Montclair State, because, he says, it had an enormous impact on his college years and his choice of career. The course was in Classics and the professor, Dr. Mary English, immediately sparked Al’s imagination. Al would take many classes with Dr. English during his four years at Montclair State ― so much so that he jokes that he “majored in History and minored in Dr. English.”
Al remembers arriving on campus filled with excitement and trepidation. “It was my first time living away from my home and family,” says the Runnemede, N.J., native, “but I moved into Freeman Hall and almost immediately found a new family of friends, almost all of whom I am still friends with today.”
Al excelled academically although his path to graduation had some bends in it. “I went to Montclair thinking that I was going to be a science major. But I looked at the University’s course catalog – in those days it was an actual book – and saw so many courses that I wanted to take, that I quickly decided not to be a science major.”
Al took full advantage of Montclair State’s broad array of offerings and set about fashioning a liberal arts education for himself, eventually graduating summa cum laude. He also immersed himself in extracurricular activities, becoming an integral part of campus life. He was the student representative to the University’s Board of Trustees, vice president of the yearbook and was the student speaker at his Commencement and at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Convocation.
He’s been back to campus a number of times since he graduated and says that beyond the obvious transformation – there are many new or renovated buildings – he sees a change in the students. “There seems to be a stronger student presence. There is now a community on campus. Everywhere you look you see students wearing Montclair State tee shirts. There is real school pride.”
After Montclair State, Al headed to Ithaca, N.Y., to attend law school at Cornell. He says that he had some trepidation about being a kid from a state school surrounded by graduates of Harvard and Yale but those fears were quickly allayed. “Nobody is prepared for law school,” he laughs. He credits the mentorship of Dr. English for helping him to succeed. “I wrote my way onto Law Review,” he says. Now an associate with the law firm Labaton Sucharow in Manhattan, Al focuses on prosecuting complex securities fraud cases on behalf of institutional investors.
While at Montclair State, Al received financial support as an Edward J. Bloustein Distinguished Scholar. It’s one of the reasons that he began making gifts to the University before he had even graduated. “I like to give back. I got a great education at Montclair State and I want that opportunity to continue to be available to students.” He notes that there is also a little “enlightened self interest” in his philanthropy. “As Montclair State grows and increases in prestige, the value of my degree increases.”
Al recently returned to campus to celebrate the Honors Program 30th Reunion and made a leadership gift. In addition, he is a proud member of the Attorney Alumni Network and supports this affinity group as well.