Xavier Magazine

Non-traditional Students

Xavier students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and a wide geographic range. Here are a few of the most non-traditional.

Native American

Robert Corritore represents a different twist to the idea of a non-traditional student. Corritore is a Native American, a member of the Umpqua band of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Western Oregon.

He mostly lives in San Francisco with his mother, but often visits the reservation, where his father now lives. His ties to the tribe are tight. When he was a newborn, he was given his Indian name, Keesch-Koo Parazoo, which means “Second Son,” at a naming celebration on the reservation.

Corritore, a junior majoring in economics, picked Xavier for a change of location and the business school. But he’s been most inspired by a theology class he took in Assisi, Italy, tracing the pilgrimages of St. Francis, an account of which he wrote for his tribal newspaper, Smoke Signals. He’s hoping to get an internship at the paper, which would allow him to live on the reservation and get closer to his heritage. “Being Native American is definitely something I’m very proud of.”


Images of Hawaii usually drum up dreamy visions of crunchy coconut and juicy pineapple rings. Not for Michael Louis. He dreams of home. And Spam.

“It’s a treat in Hawaii,” says Louis, one of three Hawaiians attending Xavier this year. “They fry it and put it on steamed rice. It’s actually pretty good. They usually wrap seaweed around it so it’s like sushi.”

The treat started during World War II when Spam was the only meat available on the island. But don’t think he’s unhappy at Xavier without Spam—or ocean breezes. He’s just adjusting to the culture shock of life in the chilly Midwest.

Louis chose Xavier because he was looking for a school on the mainland, preferably in the Midwest or on the East Coast, that offered a strong history program and Army ROTC. He found both at Xavier, arriving for the first time on campus last August for orientation.

Luckily, the Hawaiian candy and treats he brought along helped break the ice with his new classmates.


Northern Mariana Islands

As the only Xavier student from the Northern Mariana Islands, RyAnne Camacho gets the questions a lot: Where in the world are the Northern Mariana Islands, and how did she find Xavier? Answer: Northern Mariana is a group of 14 islands east of Japan that used to include Guam. It is a commonwealth of the U.S. The largest of the islands is Saipan, where Camacho lives, followed by Tinian and Rota. Camacho was looking for a Jesuit college somewhere other than the islands, and her family wanted her to experience the U.S. mainland. She’s undecided about her major but expects to go into some form of health care. “I was supposed to go to Chaminade in Hawaii but when I was making my deposit there, I found out I got into Xavier and that changed my mind because I didn’t want to be on another island.”

Xavier Magazine

Second Chance

The first time Kimberly Davis went to prison, she was 18 years old. She had picked up a ravenous heroin habit as a runaway in California and returned home to Cincinnati—addicted and broke.

Desperate to get high, she helped a boyfriend rob a fellow drug dealer at his home, breaking in and tying up the people inside. She was convicted of robbery, sent to prison in Marysville, Ohio, and released after six months.

For the next 20 years, Davis’ drug habit kept her desperate and on the edge of the law. In 1989 she earned a second trip to prison, this time for two years, on charges of prostitution and a parole violation. Ten years later, police caught up with her again. This time, she was brought before a judge on a drug charge. Turns out it was the best day of her life.

Instead of prison, which she describes as “just a continuous walking around the same circle day after day,” she was sent to River City Correctional Center where she received treatment for her addiction and counseling for everything else that was wrong in her life. It got her body clean and her mind right. That was 13 years ago. “That’s what saved me.”

It also led her, ultimately, to Xavier, where last May, after four years of night classes, she completed her bachelor’s degree in liberal arts with a minor in criminal justice. At commencement, she stood in awe at the sight of her name on the marquee.

Davis, who was the first woman to complete River City’s six-month program, is now giving back. She was hired by River City last year to be a case manager, helping other addicts get their lives back. River City, in Cincinnati, is one of 19 community-based correctional facilities in Ohio that keep low-level felons close to home while providing rehabilitation and treatment aimed at reducing recidivism. It doesn’t work for everybody, but it worked for Davis.

“River City showed me I didn’t have to live like that anymore,” she says. “I really thought I was going to die being a dope fiend, but they treated me like I was somebody and allowed me to see that if I wanted to change, I had to take responsibility for myself. I found I really wanted to live. I just didn’t know how.”

Now, she’s using her past to help other women find their futures. “I feel this is my purpose and this is where God wanted me to be,” she says. “This is the same ground I went to jail on and got recovery on, and now I’m an employee here. It’s very liberating.”

Xavier Magazine

Ruff Life with Big Cats

A typical workday for Margaret Ruff includes a swim—with tigers. Full-grown Indochinese tigers.

She dons her swim shorts and shirt, ties back her hair and grabs the tigers’ favorite brightly colored inflatable balloon toys. Entering the pool area through a gate, she eyes her swimming companions, who pad around the fenced enclosure on their thick paws. Zion and Ezekiel, 4-year-old siblings, see the balloons and are ready to play. So is Ruff. She shakes the pipe attached to the balloons. They jiggle. Zion watches intently. His fur twitches. Ruff knows the best part of the day is about to begin. It’s also one of the most dangerous.

It’s called Tiger Splash, a kind of play date for tigers where they learn to socialize with their keepers and each other. It happens every afternoon at the Out of Africa Wildlife Park where Ruff, who graduated in 2003 with a degree in sociology, has been working for six years. It’s a dream job for Ruff, a cat lover from Seattle who always wanted to work with cats. Maybe even big cats.

So after graduating, she searched for a veterinary tech position and came across Cat Tales Zoological Park near Spokane, Wash., that also offers a professional zoo school. The best part was they had large cats. The one-year program was hard work—80-hour weeks and strenuous labor—but Ruff learned about keeping wild animals and managing wildlife parks. Before she finished, she had a job offer from Out of Africa in central Arizona, where she started in July 2005 as an animal keeper for large cats.

Ruff has since been promoted to assistant manager of cats and predators. Her menagerie includes 15 tigers, 16 lions and several black leopards, bobcats and a spotted jaguar. The park has 104 acres for its animals, typical African, Asian and American native species that, in addition to the cats, include bears, giraffes, zebras, hyenas, wildebeests, wolves and Boom Boom the rhinoceros. All have been rescued and are free to roam in the park’s open wildlife preserve or African bush safari.

Ruff’s job focuses on animal care. She assists veterinarians and helped raise Zion and Ezekiel, twin cubs who were saved from an overcrowded facility. “I love it,” she says. “It’s exactly what I want to do. It would be hard to leave because these animals are like my family.”

It’s 1:15 p.m. Spectators watch from the bleachers as Ruff shakes the balloons again and Zion charges. But Ruff is not afraid. She helped raise

Zion. She trusts him. Ruff runs toward the pool and jumps in, tossing the balloons away. Zion leaps in after her, accidentally landing on Ruff’s head, using her as a stepping stone to get to the balloons behind her. The tiger’s weight forces Ruff under, the big paws pressing her to the bottom. What seems like forever is actually only a few seconds before Zion swims off.

Ruff pulls herself out of the pool as Zion pounces on his prey. He puts a big paw on a balloon and bites. It pops. The crowd cheers, and he looks around for more.

“Their instinct is to play with us,” Ruff says. “It can be dangerous, but we’ve been with these animals since they were babies. We know they love us and don’t want to hurt us.”

Xavier Magazine

Racing Dentist

When Charlie DiPasquale was a biology major at Xavier in the late 1960s, he loved sports cars and dreamed of owning a flashy set of wheels. He used to go to an old Jaguar dealership and gape at the sleek coupes on the lot.

If only he could have seen himself now, in fire suit and helmet, pushing a race car around a track at 150 miles per hour. The young DiPasquale would be well pleased.

The dream may never have come to be had DiPasquale not signed himself and a buddy up for a three-day racing course at a Mansfield, Ohio, speedway. His friend bailed at the last minute, so DiPasquale went alone, and spent a long weekend taking laps at 100 mph in a tricked-out racer. “I did it as a lark,” he says. “But I got hooked on it, it was so much fun. It’s an addicting thing.”

That was 10 years ago. Now DiPasquale, who has been a dentist in Centerville, Ohio, for the past 35 years, is even more invested. He’s a member of the Sports Car Club of America and has his own car, an open-cockpit sport prototype with a 1,000cc engine, that he races in the series’ amateur division. DiPasquale competes in three races each summer. He takes every one seriously, studying videos of his performance to improve his times.

“I like the fact that it trains you to be concentrated and focused,” he says. “It’s just so hard to do and do it right. It’s pretty dangerous, and it keeps you alert.”

All those faculties came into play on the racetrack three years ago when DiPasquale was on the heels of the lead car. It slammed on its brakes, sending DiPasquale skidding into the grass.

“I looked down and my whole cockpit was on fire,” he says. “I don’t know how I got out, but I flew out of that car upside down.” Fortunately, a fireman was on hand to douse the flames, and DiPasquale escaped without serious injury.

While “pretty hairy,” the accident hasn’t deterred the dentist from racing. “It didn’t take long to get over that,” he says. “If you’re worried about that all the time, you have to quit.”

Xavier Magazine

Making Waves

The storyline goes like this: Two airheads stumble into a nearly empty campus radio station. The dysfunctional duo wrangle control of the microphone, and proceed to channel a blend of Jerry Lewis and Les Nessman. Panic ensues.

You couldn’t script a better screwball comedy, but Guy Hempel and Larry Holt recall that’s how they lived it. “Hempel and I were the first two students on the air at WVXU in the fall of 1970,” says Holt. As he recounts the scenario, faculty members were manning the control board in the basement of Alter Hall. “The station was on the air only two hours a day,” he says. “We stopped in to see if we could get on the staff. They basically said, ‘What are you doing today?’ and we were on the air. As you can imagine, we had no idea what we were doing.”

“That’s very accurate,” says Hempel. “We left for the summer thinking we would come back to the low-watt AM WCXU, in hopes of getting a position playing rock ‘n’ roll. Surprise! We came back to an ‘educational FM’ WVXU and we were the first two student staffers. Then we had to get creative to fit what we wanted to play into the ‘educational’ mold.” This involved a mishmash of news and disc jockeying, alternating jazz with comedy. There was always beer in the fridge, says Holt, and all the expected firestorms, fistfights, on-air f-bombs and a GM “who used to quit in a huff about once a week, and then show up the next day as if nothing had happened.”

“I still can hear the phone calls: ‘Guys, this is the FCC calling,’ ” says Hempel with a laugh. There are, of course, memories they’d rather forget. An in-studio bachelor’s party, for one. And some imported programs. “ ‘Good Music for Good Neighbors’ was the bane of our existence,” says Holt. “And ‘In the Bookstall.’ We got tapes from some guy at Ohio State who just read books out loud.”

After graduation, both bounced around broadcasting. Holt worked a dozen years at WKRC-TV in Cincinnati along with some other outlets and now heads up Max Marketing and Productions. Hempel, meanwhile, became vice president and general manager of WHNS, the Fox affiliate in Greenville, S.C.

Xavier Magazine

Extra Credit: Kent A. Beausoleil, S.J.

Kent A. Beausoleil, S.J., has served as an emergency room orderly, bartender, pastry chef, governmental budget officer and assistant city manager. He was born at Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Waukegan, Ill., the second youngest of seven children.

After earning his BA in political science/public service and MA in public administration at Northern Illinois University, he served stints as an assistant village manager in Palatine, Ill., and as budget and risk management officer for the city of Rockford, Ill., as well as an emergency room orderly at Mercy Hospital Detroit. He entered the Jesuits in 1997, earning his MA in philosophy from Fordham University and an MDiv from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. He was ordained to priestly ministry in 2007.

“I came to Xavier right after ordination, and I started working both in campus ministry and as associate pastor at Bellarmine. My second year, I moved over to Brockman Hall and became resident chaplain. My third year, I started a doctoral program in philosophy of education.

“Right now there’s a lot on my plate, a lot of good stuff. My average day is pretty much catch as catch can.

“At the Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice, I do a lot of retreat work and spiritual direction, liturgical functions, prayer services and the like.

“I also do different things for Bellarmine: Masses, daily works in the parish, baptisms and weddings, residence hall blessings and such. Weddings are a big ministry. I do 12 to 15 a year and really enjoy that.

“I’ve gotten the opportunity to travel. I have taken a lot of trips to Guatemala, Mexico and Paris to learn languages. I spent four weeks in Israel. I took a comparative education course where I toured all the different universities in New Zealand to see how they provided for student services. This past summer I studied in Europe—London, University of Oxford, Belgium­—for a paper on their best practices of higher education.

“Before I entered the priesthood, I worked in some Chicago restaurants, as a waiter at first, and as a bartender, and then moved over to pastry chef. I considered a career in restaurant management. Instead I went from serving tables to serving at a different table.

“Once a month, I bake cookies for the students since I used to work in restaurants as a pastry chef. In Brockman, I cook all the time.

I will make pies, brownies or cakes for the Jesuit community. For Manresa, I used to make desserts to accompany the dinner out in Milford.

“I came from a family where both my parents loved to cook. We had family dinner parties all the time. Faith for us as a family was very important. I remember the dynamism and mystery present during Mass and worship.

“The heart of the ministry is caring for each other. For me, it’s a move away from being physically fed, to being spiritually fed.

“Some of my profound moments have come through listening to a person suffering with HIV or coming out of emergency surgery, helping a person face a difficult decision or being with a student struggling with tests,dating, fitting in.”

Xavier Magazine

Compost Initiative

Xavier and Chartwells, the University’s food service provider, plan to implement a new program to divert all of the food waste generated in the new Hoff Dining Commons out of the landfill. Xavier will utilize the services of Future Organics Inc., which is a corporation that specializes in waste material transportation throughout the Midwest.

Future Organics transports waste products to either permitted composting facilities or anaerobic digester facilities. The digester facilities burn the waste materials and collect the methane gas to be used for energy.

Future Organics will pick up the food waste and transport it to the two permitted composting facilities in the area: Marvin’s Organic Gardens and Brousch Farm. The reason only composting facilities will be used for Xavier’s food waste is that food waste in particular does not work well in anaerobic digesters. For example, chicken bones take a long time to break down in digesters and can clog up the system. Marvin’s Organic Gardens, located in Lebanon, is a 10-acre composting facility that takes waste from a variety of sources throughout the Cincinnati area including Walmart, Westin Hotels and the Cincinnati Zoo. Brousch Farm is similar and is located in Clarksville, Ohio.

There are many benefits to composting waste. Perhaps the most important benefit is that it keeps recyclable materials out of landfills. This reduces the amount of leachate that leaks into surrounding communities and waterways, conserves space so that other materials may be placed in the landfill, and cuts down on the release of methane into the atmosphere. Properly turned compost material undergoes aerobic respiration, while in a landfill all of the waste undergoes anaerobic respiration because it is never exposed to oxygen. In the compost the aerobic respiration produces carbon dioxide while in the landfill anaerobic respiration creates the more potent greenhouse gas methane (Shreeves). The carbon emissions as a result of the release of methane in landfills is much more significant than the carbon emission emitted by compost in the form of carbon dioxide.

The program is made possible by a large walk-in refrigerator in the new dining facility that will allow the food waste to be safely stored for Future Organics to pick it up once a week. The current plan is to store the food waste in 10 96-gallon wheeled carts in the walk-in refrigerator. Three fourths of the food waste is post-consumer waste, meaning it consists of leftovers that will come directly off plates on the belt leading back into the kitchen. The other fourth is kitchen scraps that come from the kitchen where the food is prepared. Chartwells has made an effort to eliminate all plastics and other non-compostable items from the Hoff Dining Commons. This includes items such as individual peanut butter, jelly and cream cheese containers. This allows all of the food waste to be put directly into the food waste containers to be taken by Future Organics. A common misconception is that meat, dairy and bread products should not be used in compost but in a controlled compost facility this is not the case. The reason for not using these products is that they can smell and attract animals, but as long as the compost is turned and these items are covered this is not an issue.

While no start date for the program has been set, Physical Plant’s commitment to this program is a significant step towards making Xavier a sustainable campus, and for this reason the University should be applauded. There have been long-term discussions among faculty, administrators and students about creating an urban farm where Xavier could do on-site composting. Until this larger vision materializes, this program is a good solution to managing our food waste in an environmentally responsible manner.

Xavier Magazine

Chapter President Spotlight: Tricia Stagger

Name: Tricia Staggers

Major: Pre-Medicine, Bachelor of Liberal Arts, with minors in Political Science and Natural Sciences, as well as additional significant coursework in American Sign Language.

Graduation year: 2003 (I got a head start on college at the age of 16 by participating in the Post-Secondary Enrollment Option program. I consequently transferred 48 credit hours into Xavier and was able to graduate well before my “real” class year of 2005). I continued on to complete a Master of Science in Public Health with a Concentration in Health Administration, from UNC Charlotte in 2009.

Best Xavier memory: My fondest Xavier memories are of MANRESA, through which I met wonderful new people and started my Xavier adventure.

Occupation: I am the Director of Personal Enrichment and Healthy Living at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in Salisbury, N.C. In this role, I administer a new program which provides a variety of enriching classes to the communities in a two-county service region. I handle everything from continually surveying the community for courses of potential interest and securing qualified instructors for courses, to scheduling classes and designing curricula. I offer courses in Zumba, Jewelry Making, Antique Decorating and Appraising, Worm Farming and Organic Gardening, Solar Electric Generation and Solar Thermal Hot Water Systems, Motorcycle Safety, Yoga, Couponing, and Cake Decorating, just to name a few. Additionally, I personally instruct and provide internal staff with professional development learning opportunities ranging in topics from wellness and health promotion to improving productivity by utilizing smart phones, social networking, and “The Cloud.” I collaborate with other areas of the college and the greater community to provide wellness lunch-and-learns, health and safety fairs, and support sustainability efforts. I am also a part-time instructor for in Health and Medical online and classroom courses at multiple colleges.

What people don’t know about you: I have crocheted since my grandmother taught me at age 7. I was a “background artist” (extra) in the movie 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story. Through my family’s and friends’ involvement with NASCAR, I have met many race car drivers and have observed a lot of races from pit row. I am the youngest of five children and was a first-generation college student.

Chapter: Charlotte

Became chapter president in: July 2006

Best chapter event: My chapter participated in whitewater rafting at the United States National Whitewater Center (which is a U.S. Olympic Training Site that offers activities such as whitewater rafting, kayaking, mountain biking and zip-lining), and our raft never capsized.

Other Xavier activities: I am also the Southeast Regional Director of the XUNAA. What else: Since graduating from Xavier, I have worked as a veterinary technician, a pharmacy technician, a bank teller and customer service representative, and worked in medical offices (I worked at most of these jobs simultaneously). I have also instructed courses in English-as-a-Second-Language, Medical Law and Ethics, Medical Terminology, Pathophysiology, Pharmacology and other medical classes, and have tutored college students in Biology, Chemistry and Statistics, and tutored a hearing-impaired student for the GED. Xavier instilled in me the values of service and giving back to the community, so I continue to teach, tutor and volunteer as much as possible in an effort to share those values with others.

Xavier Magazine

Profile: Richard Romanus

Richard Romanus

Bachelor of Science in philosophy, 1964


Skiathos Island, Greece

Claim to Fame | Romanus has the kind of craggy face that you recognize immediately, a mug shot captured in a plethora of television episodes and Hollywood moments. He’s often cast as a (somewhat) lovable bad guy (“The Rockford Files,” “Mod Squad” and “Mission: Impossible”) or a weary police captain (“Hill Street Blues” and “Cagney & Lacey”) or even as an irascible Mexican, Italian-American, Mediterranean or otherwise ethnic goon. On the big screen, he co-starred with Goldie Hawn (as “The Emir”) in “Protocol” and with Bridget Fonda in “Point of No Return” (as Fahd Bakhtiar).

His Big Break | Studying with Lee Strasberg at the famed Actors Studio in New York City, his first major role was “Michael” in the 1973 Martin Scorsese film “Mean Streets.”

Seen Most Recently In… | “My last TV show was a semi-regular role on ‘The Sopranos,’ where I played a psychiatrist [Richard La Penna] married to the psychiatrist of the godfather. My last film was ‘Young Black Stallion’ for Disney, which was a prequel to ‘The Black Stallion,’ a hit movie based on the children’s books of the same name.”

On the Tube | Romanus (not to be confused with his younger brother, actor Robert Romanus) has appeared in a litany of primetime police procedurals and P.I. knockoffs: “NYPD Blue,” “Kojak,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Starsky & Hutch,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Matt Houston,” “Hunter.” “I have no personal favorites. Every role presented a different set of challenges and rewards. Scorsese’s film ‘Mean Streets’ is probably the most interesting and celebrated film in which I appear.” In “Streets,” Romanus plays a particularly nasty loan shark alongside two other newbie actors, Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel.

In the Beginning | His first movie was 1968’s memorable (and “super-cheap”) “The Ghastly Ones,” with Romanus playing the lead under his given name of Romanos. The plot: “Three married couples are forced to spend the night in a Victorian-era house where they start getting killed off by a psycho.”

On the Bookshelf | “There are two books currently out: Act III, my memoir about retiring from Hollywood and moving to a small island in Greece, and Chrysalis, a World War II novel.”

Personal Notes | Married to Anthea Sylbert, his co-writer and producer on two television productions, “Giving Up the Ghost” and “If You Believe.” The couple has lived on the island of Skiathos since 2001.

How He Got to Greece | “The answer to that is rather complicated, but is dealt with fully in Act III.” Suffice it to say Skiathos is a remote, tiny island (pop. 4,900) in the northwest Aegean Sea—famed only as the location shoot for the movie “Mamma Mia”—and that Romanus is likely the only resident among the 4,900 to follow Musketeer game results.

Xavier Magazine

Catching Up with Frank Abagnale

You’ve got to credit Frank W. Abagnale Jr. with audacity, if not modesty.

How many famous white-collar criminals, after all, are so emboldened that they’d happily show up before an audience at a Jesuit Catholic university—a righteous crowd which includes many ethics gurus as well as those ultimate workers of the white-collar persuasion—and immediately proceed to brag on their notorious exploits and seedy criminal past?

In a discussion approaching a trip to the confessional booth, Abagnale does just this and more. Delivering his lecture titled “Catch Me If You Can: The Art of the Steal” during the Cintas Institute for Business Ethics 2012 speakers’ series, this modern-day pirate proves himself still both candid and crafty, resilient and remorseful.

“I consider my past immoral, illegal and unethical,” he told the capacity crowd of 650. “It is something I am not proud of. It’s a burden I live with every single day.”

Abagnale may be, in fact, America’s foremost fraudster. In a career littered with check scams, tricky escapades and elaborate embezzlements, he once swindled millions from corporate coffers. A Hollywood biopic “Catch Me If You Can” eventually turned the great impostor into a household name, with screen star Leo DiCaprio portraying Abagnale and Tom Hanks co-starring as the FBI agent who dogs the charming if conniving character at every turn.

Sometimes impudent, often nervy, the true-life Abagnale does offer up glimmers of lessons that he’s sorely learned along the way. Crime doesn’t pay. Well, it does, until you face serious jail time: “I always knew I’d get caught. Only a fool would think otherwise.”

Addressing a full house of business ethics majors and other students for his April 10 appearance at the James and Caroline Duff Banquet Center, the consummate forger and thief amused and cajoled the audience to a standing ovation.

Reflecting on his early life of hoaxes and bluffs, he notes: “I’ve turned down three pardons from three Presidents of the United States.” In other words, he offers no excuses for his behavior and no special favors.

A product of strict Catholic upbringing and a string of parochial schools, young Frank embarked early upon his odyssey of financial carnage—a counterfeiting crime spree that spanned three continents and a half-dozen years. The teenager diligently impersonated airline pilots, an assistant district attorney, a pediatrician, even a college professor.

“This is a great country, in which everybody gets a second chance,” says Abagnale of a moral that can be gleaned from his life story.

After stealing a Pan Am captain’s uniform and realizing that airport banks across the world would now cash his fake paychecks, no questions asked, the young runaway from Bronxville, N.Y., proceeded to scam bank tellers out of millions during the 1960s—the heyday of airliner travel and easy money.

“At 16, I was 6 feet tall. And I always had gray in my hair,” he says. “So I decided to alter one digit on (my driver’s license), changing my birth date from 1948 to 1938. I suddenly became 26 years old” and now just old enough to pass for a co-pilot. He credits a visit to Manhattan’s Commodore Hotel for his first illegal inspiration: “I saw a flight crew coming out of the hotel, and I thought, that’s it! I can pose as a pilot and fly all over the world.”

Where in the world did he finesse a Pan Am uniform and ID card? “I called up Pan Am, asked in accounting for the name of their uniform vendor in Manhattan. Then I went down there. They fitted me and then when it came time to pay, I said ‘No problem, I’ll write you a check.’ “

The fleece artist took advantage of the airlines reciprocal courtesy policy—that is, free flights for all pilots of all origins. “I flew millions of miles. I never actually flew on Pan Am. Instead, I flew on everyone else.” That way, there’d be no one from Pan Am in the cockpit who could challenge his authenticity.

The fact that the pilot’s uniform attracted female attention, especially from flight attendants, was just an unintended benefit: “I was young, but not stupid.”

Now nearing age 65, Abagnale still manages to crisscross the country by air, albeit this time legally. “I’ve got seven million frequent flyer miles on American, and another coupla million on Delta,” he laughs.

One classic con that didn’t make it into the movie, he says, is when he rented a bank guard’s uniform and stood at one airport’s bank drop for night deposits. “I put a sign up that said ‘drop box out of order.’ Nobody ever questioned how a box could be out of order. They just handed me their deposit bags.”

As the CEO of Abagnale and Associates, a secure documents consulting firm he operates from his home in Charleston, S.C., he now finds consolation in consulting for his former nemesis. “This year, I’m celebrating 36 years with the FBI. I’ve worked on Enron, I worked on WorldCom, I worked on Tyco and Arthur Andersen. What amazed me about these people in every instance was their greed. They’d get $50 million for doing nothing, they could have sat and gotten away with it, but then they’d want another $50 million.”

By way of example concerning his second (and legitimate) career, Abagnale relates this tale: Once asked to challenge a new ATM prototype, the master thief promptly took a tube of Super Glue and sealed the machine’s electronic door shut. When ATM users inserted their card and the door failed to open, the bank customers always assumed the machine was broken and hit the “cancel” button. After a while, Abagnale would stroll up to the “foolproof” ATM, break open the glued door slot and take the pile of withdrawn cash that was dutifully awaiting him.

These days, corporate customers appear to be lining up for his inventive designs and criminal insights, such companies as:

* Standard Register Corp. of Dayton: He designed unique watermark safety paper for the firm that’s used to guarantee the authenticity of blank car titles, prescription pads and birth certificates

*ADP: His design for a safety protected payroll check is issued more than 800 million times per year by thousands of corporations

* Sanford Pens: The ingenious Sanford Uni-ball 207 is claimed as the only safe pen in the world that can’t be altered by chemicals or ink solvents

* Audemars Piguet: He developed a patented anti-counterfeit technology employed by the luxury watchmaker.

“I certainly don’t write a lot of checks in today’s environment,” he says. “And I shred everything into confetti. I like to remove 99 percent of all risk in my life.”

Regarding his stunning turnabout and new attitude on life, Abagnale is quick to clarify for his audience: “I was not born again. I was not rehabilitated in prison. The truth is, God gave me a wife. She gave me three beautiful children and gave me everything I am today.”

These days, he finds himself a spokesperson for such unlikely alliances as the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, for their “Stop. Call. Confirm” campaign to fight fake insurance, and World Wings International, the philanthropic arm of the association for former Pan Am flight attendants.

An unpaid consultant to the FBI, Abagnale offers free lectures to law enforcement field offices, even as his paid services are continually sought after by wealthy Fortune 500 clients such as Target and Intuit.

“Crime is constantly changing,” he says about the prospect of crime-fighting in a paperless world. “What I did 40 years ago is 4,000 times easier now.” Cyber-theft, online bilking, easy desktop printing techniques, all contribute to the massive and continuing deceptions. “For me to print counterfeits back then, I had to have a huge Heidelberg press.

“What I did in my youth is hundreds of times easier today. Technology breeds crime,” he continues. “Today, all I’d have to do is open a laptop and pick a victim.”

How slick is Abagnale? As one FBI expert puts it: “Frank Abagnale could write a check on toilet paper, drawn on the Confederate States Treasury, sign it ‘U.R. Hooked’ and cash it at any bank in any town, using a Hong Kong driver’s license for identification.”

Among the many ironies that have played through Abagnale’s life as morality tale is the fact that his eldest son has become an actual FBI counter-terrorism agent in Baltimore.

The elder Abagnale, meanwhile, has lived to see his life turn around, from the depths of isolation in a prison cell to the heights of business success. During a question-and-answer session with students following the Cintas Center presentation, he delivered these thoughts regarding the miracle of redemption, the impact of education and ethics, and how he finally found the courage to grow up and become a family man:

“We’re living in a society now where ethics go out the door, and so goes character.”

“We will never put a dent into crime until we address ethics and character.”

“Schools don’t give ethical training, and consequently, students emerge making bad decisions.”

“There’s a proper way to prevent fraud and a wrong way to do things. I find that in all breaches—most recently MasterCard and VISA, Boston College, and so on—I find that it’s not masterminds that break into systems. It’s the fault of employees at that company who bend the rules and go to other forbidden web sites and open a door into their own systems.”

Abagnale hammers down a warning that counterfeits and illicit clones will only continue to disrupt the national economy while identity theft runs rampant. The Internet is just the beginning.

“If you happen to mention to me where you were born and your date of birth, I’m 98 percent on the way to becoming you,” the con man warns students. He’s particularly wary of the perils inherent in the Facebook Generation: “Your identity is one of the few things you have left. So take care. Stop giving out information.”

He has another message for young students: “I’m a true believer that we all learn from other people’s mistakes. And what mistakes you make in life now, you have to live with for a long time.”

All this, perhaps, making Frank W. Abagnale Jr. a certified “ethics hero”—and something of a genuine article.