Awards & Events

Veteran Attorney Shares Insights from His 4 Careers

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Carl Nunziatio, then a captain in the U.S. Army, was preparing to give a speech to a group of noncommissioned officers.

Before he spoke, his top sergeant advised him to weigh his words carefully, telling him to look at the group of 50 men. Every sergeant and corporal he was about to address could do something better than the captain, the first sergeant said.

“That was a shot of humility, but it was a good lesson because learning that lesson made me respect people,” Nunziato recalled.

Speaking Thursday to high school students at the Mahoning County Bar Association Law Day Luncheon, Nunziatio said the “overriding success” of the careers they choose would be based on their relationships and how they deal with people.

“Regardless of whatever field of study you’re in, the people are the greatest things you’ll enjoy,” he told the students, lawyers, judges and members of area service clubs gathered for the luncheon at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Banquet Hall.

The bar association held the luncheon this year in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Youngstown. City service clubs take turns with the association in hosting the annual event.

Nunziato, who retired from the army as a major, shared insights gathered from his experience in four careers. Before his military service during Vietnam, he was a teacher at The Rayen School. After his discharge, he joined the former Dollar Savings & Trust Co., where he worked 28 years for the bank and its successors.

During his time at Dollar, it acquired five other banks and became a bank holding company. Headed “toward great success,” Dollar “ran smack into the Phar-Mor problem,” he said, referring to the 1992 bankruptcy of the deep-discount pharmacy chain that collapsed a decade later.

“That sort of ended Dollar Bank,” later acquired by National City Bank, he said.

Although he retired 15 years ago, he continues to practice as an attorney, his fourth career.

“If you’re not sure what it is you want to do in life, don’t worry about it. It’ll come. It’ll happen. It’ll be there,” he said. “Just go forth one at a time and do what you have to do.”

People were the common element to all four of his careers, he said. The greatest lessons the students could learn, he said, regardless of the careers they choose – will be from their peers. “You learn from your peers. You learn from the judges. You learn from every experience you get,” he said.

Initially advised to discuss the 14th Amendment to the Constitution’s – “the most interesting one,” he said, because its deals with due process and equal protection – he discarded that portion of his speech upon learning it was the topic of the association’s essay contest.

His nod to the law during his speech consisted chiefly of reading the opening of the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution.

In preparation for his speech, Nunziato said he interviewed six high school students and two college students, ages 13 to 19.

“They are the smartest young people I have ever encountered,”’ he said, “and I think they’re the smartest generation we will ever encounter because they have everything we’ve prepared for them.

“They’re not sure of their future careers,” he added. “Well, neither was I.”

He noted that the students were very polite — except the two who pulled out their cell phones while he was interviewing them. “The phone is not better than the people you’re talking to,” he said. “When you’re talking with somebody, put the phone down.”

He also found that young people have difficulty carrying on conversations.

“Our future is totally dependent upon our young people today,” the lawyer said. “What counts is what you young people will do. We are putting our faith in you. If it is properly put, you will be our workers. You will be our political leaders and, obviously, some of you will be our lawyers.”

He ended his speech with a series of quotes from a “somewhat successful” individual taken from a high school graduation speech delivered by Bill Gates.

Among the pieces of advice the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist offered:

  • Life is not fair. Get used to it.
  • If you think your teacher was tough, wait till you meet your boss.
  • Be nice to the nerds. They will end up being your boss.

Nunziato favorably impressed the students at the luncheon.

“It was great to hear from someone who has such experience in multiple fields,” said Cade Kreps, a Boardman High School junior who won first place in the essay contest.

Giavanna LaGamba, a senior at Austintown Fitch High School who took fifth place in the essay contest, said she plans to major in philosophy. A common theme in philosophy, particularly the teachings of Aristotle, is the concept of justice.

“The pursuit of justice is the most noble pursuit,” she remarked.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.