NJIT will induct Jean Graziano, of Maryland, into its 2009 Athletics Hall of Fame on May 9, 2009 in the Campus Center Atrium. Graziano, who graduated from NJIT in 1989, manages construction projects for the University of Maryland in Baltimore. While at NJIT, among other activities, she became one of the university’s first female softball stars.
Tickets for the event, which will feature a cocktail reception followed by dinner, are $75. For more information, please contact Kathy Dickerson, 973-596-3456.
When Graziano (nee Murray) was at Moore Catholic High School on Staten Island, she knew what she wanted in a college and it wasn’t necessarily a typical path for a young woman nearly 25 years ago.
She wanted to be an engineer and she wanted to play college sports—softball, in particular. On closer look, none of it was a surprise. Her father was a civil engineer and she has two brothers who are engineers. And she had played softball and basketball and was a cheerleader and manager of the boys basketball team at Moore Catholic.
At NJIT, she studied mechanical engineering and joined a women’s sports program that was in its infancy. The first women’s intercollegiate contest was in October of 1982 and the softball team earned its first all-time victory when she was a freshman in 1986. She estimates that NJIT’s student body was about 10 percent female then and she recalls one of her first classes, in physical education: “I was the only girl. I thought I was in the wrong spot.” It was the right spot and she starred for four years in softball, coached by NJIT’s Bob Moran. She also played tennis for two years and was the scorekeeper for men’s basketball.
She was president of the Alpha Sigma Tau sorority, student manager of the alumni center her last two years, and, with softball teammate and fellow future Hall of Famer Liz Goldrick (Pitt) (’90), headed the freshman orientation program for two years.
On the softball field, she was a team captain, earning team Most Valuable Player honors in three seasons. She played catcher, outfield and first base at various times.
As a senior in 1989, she led the team in doubles, triples, slugging percentage and runs batted in, driving home 14 runs in 10 games. Playing the outfield, she was also the team leader in fielding percentage. As a sophomore, playing catcher, she led the team in stolen bases (note: complete statistics are on file only for her sophomore and senior seasons). She also earned outside honors, including all-conference from the Women’s Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
After graduation, she worked for Merck & Company, following an internship through the undergraduate co-operative education program. She moved to Maryland in 1994, taking her current job overseeing the construction of new buildings and renovations of old ones for the University of Maryland.
She and her husband, Jack live outside of Baltimore in Timonium, with their family: her stepson, Steve, a student at Towson University, and her son Brian (7) and twins Jessica and Kevin, who will soon turn four.
Graziano has deep positive feelings about NJIT. “To me, the sports program was about camaraderie,” she said. “Liz Goldrick and I were friends—she pitched and I caught in softball—and we did a lot of other things, like running the Miniversity together. I enjoyed playing the sports, but the thing I took out of it most was the friendships and associations.”
On the academic end, she said: “I’ve had a chance to work with graduates of a lot of schools and I’d put our school up against any school. The classes gave you a good work ethic and you came out well-prepared.
“I graduated in four years with a six-month internship and I think it was enough of a well-rounded campus. There was plenty to do if you had a notion to be involved. I would do it all over again.”