The Campisano family endured many hardships early on, enabling them to empathize with the less fortunate and instilling in them a great appreciation for the blessings they received.
As an orphan who never graduated from high school, Guy Campisano was committed to family and emphasized to his children the importance of having faith, obtaining a college education, and finding ways to give back to the community.
This upbringing greatly influenced Guy’s son Mark, who attended Catholic elementary and high schools but considered forgoing college so he could delve into his family’s growing fruit and produce business. Ultimately, it was his father’s influence that inspired Mark to obtain an undergraduate degree in business administration at Bellarmine in 1982.
“My father attended St. X his freshman year had to quit to work – he couldn’t afford it. If you ever talked to my father, he’d say, ‘I’m just a dumb produce guy; I never got an education.’ Education was very important to him because of his not having had that opportunity,” Mark said. “I was very involved in the family business, and I wanted to go to work. His deal was always, ‘You have to get a college education, because you never know what might happen.’”
The family ultimately sold the produce business. “It was the right decision for our family, but I thought, ‘Now what?’” Mark recalled. He considered earning an advanced degree but worried that at age 40, he was too old. So he went to lunch with another mentor, longtime U.S. Rep. Ron Mazzoli. “He told me ‘You’re never too old. Be a lifetime student. Always be learning.’” Mark went on to get an Executive MBA from Bellarmine and is now managing director and principal at Zelkova Strategic Partners, LLC.
In his office is a framed honorary diploma that St. Xavier High School gave his father in 1986. “It was one of the most important and meaningful things that my father ever received,” Mark said.
Guy Campisano passed away in 1990. The family later established the Al and Guy Campisano Family Trust, named for Mark’s father and his uncle, through the Community Foundation of Louisville to support causes important to them. In the spirit of philanthropy that has always guided the family, a scholarship has been created at Bellarmine and endowed by the Trust to afford young adults the opportunity to attend the university. The scholarship, which is renewable for up to eight semesters, will be awarded to one or more current or incoming students based upon need.
Mark Campisano says that in addition to helping him succeed, his Bellarmine education reinforced the values that were instilled in him by his family and church.
“They taught you right from wrong; they taught you to be ethical, that faith was important. Never once in any of our studies did they focus on making money,” he said. “It was more about education and helping you reach the next level. There was never a hard-sell focus on ‘Make all the money you can.’”