Gateway Community College (GCC) awarded a posthumous certificate at its 21st annual commencement ceremonies on May 23 to Mario Rudolph Fasano, Sr., who passed away suddenly on April 28, less than a month before his long-anticipated graduation. Fasano, 53, was known to the college as Mr. Gateway. He acted as an ambassador to new students, with an ever-present splash of cologne and an utterly magnetic smile.
According to GCC Director of Student Services Matthew Long, “Fasano was also a tutor, a leader, a mentor and a friend.” Fasano was actively involved in the Student Government Association (SGA), DARC and Phi Theta Kappa and he was a new student orientation leader.
In a memorial service arranged by fellow students Adon Duncanson and Lauren Robinson, Gateway students, faculty, staff and administrators paid tribute to Mario’s life.
GCC President Dr. Dorsey L. Kendrick said Fasano was one of several students chosen to speak with Interim Board of Regents President Philip E. Austin about what Gateway was truly all about. “He was so poised…he was so passionate,” she said. “He was a father; he was a son. He was a student; he was a man of God. He left a legacy for us; he left a legacy of love.”
Tulani Dial, president of Phi Theta Kappa, recalled meeting Mario on the day of the honor society induction. They shared laughs and she figured she would never see him again. Who was she kidding, she said, she saw Mario every day. He was an inimitable presence.
“Mr. Gateway is what they called him,” Dial said. “He spoke to everyone, the noticed, the unnoticed, the healthy, the sick, the faculty, the staff and the students. They were all better and brighter when Mario had arrived.”
Outgoing SGA President Symphany Joseph, Sal Florio, past president of the Drug and Alcohol Recovery Counseling Club (DARC), and many members of the GCC community spoke about how much Mario meant to them and how he urged people on to do their best.
In addition to the posthumous certificate, the Mario Fasano Scholarship Fund also has been established in his honor.