Marie DiGiammarino always envisioned teaching, but never anticipated making Illinois State her professional home for nearly 30 years.
The path to ISU started in her native state of Pennsylvania, where she earned an undergraduate degree and worked as a music educator. DiGiammarino completed a master’s in music therapy at the University of Georgia.
She enjoyed teaching in a laboratory school and state institutions for youth with cognitive impairments. “I could see them responding to the music as a nonverbal form of communication,” she said.
The opportunity to oversee college students completing practicums at a center for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities resulted in her return to the University of Georgia.
“I had always thought I would work with younger children,” DiGiammarino said. “I never would have assumed I would go into college teaching.”
She joined ISU’s College of Fine Arts in 1981 as faculty, but was quickly made director of the music therapy program. “I was doing both teaching and administrative work,” she recalled. “I did practicum supervision as well. Over time, I taught every single music therapy class offered, and was academic advisor for music therapy students.”
DiGiammarino also worked on curriculum changes, including the start of a graduate program. Meanwhile, she completed a doctorate in the College of Education in 1989. “The best part of everything was the students. They made it worth all the work. I learned as much from them as they did from me.”
Although retired in 2009, DiGiammarino still writes an occasional letter of recommendation for former students. Inducted into the college’s Hall of Fame, she is delighted ISU remains focused on personal student attention.
DiGiammarino stays active with regular exercise and overseeing the social outreach ministry of her church. She resides in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and can be reached on Facebook or at mdigiam@IllinoisState.edu.