SUGAR GROVE – Vince Bellafiore, 62, of Batavia, first began attending classes at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove in 1970.
Since then, he has spent three decades-long careers, as a carpenter, Batavia police officer, and – for the last 15 years – a teacher at Marmion Academy in Aurora.
For his decades of service, pursuit of his goals and perseverance in the face of adversity – it took him 17 years to complete his first two-year degree – Waubonsee Community College has recognized Bellafiore as its featured alumnus for the month of March, according to a news release.
After taking a few classes at Waubonsee, Bellafiore left to pursue his first career.
“I had a chance to go out there and earn a living as a full-time carpenter,” Bellafiore said in the release. “So, while I went through a four-year apprenticeship, and then continued to learn as a journeyman, school was really kind of put on the back burner.”
After about a decade in carpentry, Bellafiore decided to start a new career in law enforcement, where he began as an auxiliary officer with the Batavia Police Department in the late 1970s. Bellafiore took the oath of a full-time Batavia Police Officer in 1981.
While with the department, Bellafiore returned to Waubonsee to take “classes here and there,” he said in the release.
Bellafiore’s dedication to the police department paid off, spurring a promotion to the rank of sergeant.
The following year he graduated from Waubonsee with an associate degree.
An in-the-line-of-duty injury in 1998 forced him to retire from the department, which is when he began his career at Marmion, teaching classes to the young men who take part in the Roman Catholic military academy’s Leadership Education and Development, or LEAD, Program.
Bellafiore now serves as director of the LEAD program, which provides instruction in leadership ethics, skills and strategies to the approximately 20 percent of the school’s cadets not enlisted in the Junior ROTC program. Students are required to either participate in ROTC or the LEAD program throughout their four years at the school.
The lessons imparted to him by his experiences in and out of the classroom have provided him with valuable insights to share with his students – lessons that are applicable to anyone, anywhere, at anytime, he said in the release.
“Learning is important in all aspects of what we do,” Bellafiore said in the release. “We’re all lifelong learners.”
Bellafiore also has a bachelor's and master's degree.