Posted May 10, 2013

Journalism major succeeds under heavy weight of responsibility

Ryan A. Geffert
Lucia Volpe
  • Lucia Volpe

In the weeks before graduation, an equal number of moments of raw excitement and sheer terror fluttered through Luci Volpe’s head as she looked toward her future. Quite a common state of mind for a college senior.

But if you had an extended conversation with Volpe, who is graduating from the Department of Journalism in Temple’s School of Media and Communication, you’d notice a few things on her mind that might catch you off guard. She talks about things like mortgage payments and ensuring her little brother finds the right college. It’s all part of the responsibility that was handed to her after losing both of her parents by the age of 14.

But even through the tragedy, Volpe and her siblings, Maria, who is five years older, and Blaise, who is five years younger, weren’t left alone. Over the years, they had formed a tight bond with their next-door neighbors in the Holmesburg section of Northeast Philadelphia, Joyce and Ed Dence.

After their father passed, they tore down the fence that separated their two yards, allowing easy access between the homes. And when their mother passed away, Maria and Joyce split guardianship of Luci and Blaise.

The family dinner is next door at the Dence house — every night between 5:30 and 6 p.m. Luci considers the Dence sons her older brothers, but she’s never quite figured out how to succinctly describe Joyce.

“My sister always calls her our grandmother. People always ask me who she is and I’ve never said grandmother. I have a grandmother,” Volpe said. “She’s like a second mom. She’s always been our caregiver. She’s been there through it all.”

Volpe entered Temple with dreams of heading “out west” to start a broadcasting career. But life has a way of altering dreams. She’s now focused on her siblings — getting Blaise through his senior year of high school and off to college, and letting her sister start her nursing career (she graduates this spring from the Abington Dixon School of Nursing).

“Temple has taught me so much. Honestly, I’m glad I picked journalism and then found my way into wherever else I wanted to be because of the people that I’ve met, the stories that I’ve heard,” she said. “But I can’t leave home. What was I thinking?”

Instead, Volpe, who has been working with the KYW Newsradio promotions team over the past few years, will be staying in Philly and hopes for a full-time position in promotions.

While her future is up in the air, one thing was certain as her final semester drew to a close — she would fulfill a pledge she made to her mother.

“My mom would be so mad at me if I did not go to graduation,” she said. “She would be so upset. So I’m going to go sit there for her.”