My name is Frank ludiciani, and I was born on January 9th, 1962 of Italian immigrant parents. Both of them were quite intelligent, but to their disadvantage, a private education was a luxury during their upbringings, and a public school system was non-existent. Their educations did not exceed our U.S. equivalent of grammar school education, so they resigned themselves to work on their respective family farms. During World War II, my mother’s home was occupied by Nazi soldiers and officers, who frequently used the threat of execution to control her household. My father, a soldier in the Italian army, was a two-year prisoner of war at the Nazi hard labor camp in Dortmund, Germany, where he claimed that the living envied the dead.
After World War II, my parents married in Italy and then emigrated to the U.S. in the late 1940s, settling in Boston’s Little Italy, the North End. They had three children: my sister, Lucy, born in 1949; my brother, Anthony, born in 1951; and me, the “oops!” baby, born in 1962. For decades, tourists have flocked to the North End for its U.S. history, and “yuppies” have moved in to the neighborhood because of its ambience. However, not visible to these individuals was the dark and dangerous side of the North End, and as a result of it, my dear brother, Anthony, was killed in 1970 at the age of just 19 years old, when I was only 8. Anthony was my very best friend in the world, and no one else has ever come close to being such an awesome friend.
I, myself, was exposed to violent situations in the North End, having had guns pointed at me on multiple occasions, and even suffering powder burns to the side of my head as a result of someone firing a gun near me. Another dangerous situation occurred when I was about to be a passenger in someone’s car that had a bomb in it. Of course, I wanted to distance myself from this lifestyle, while not distancing myself from North End, as I actually loved this neighborhood for its many positive attributes. I studied hard in grammar school to get into the high school of my choice, and continued studying hard to get into the college of my choice…Harvard. I graduated cum laude from Harvard in 1984 with a degree in Visual and Environmental Studies (VES).
I am so very grateful to Harvard University for affording me truly one of the greatest opportunities of my life!
First Generation Alumni Stories is a series detailing the experiences of First-Generation Harvard Alumni. If you'd like to share your story here, please email firstname.lastname@example.org