Terms of Endearment

Three members of the Allessio family


Kim Alessio ’87 (BA) looks back fondly on Greek Life, the Alcalá Club and other great memories of her collegiate experience at USD.

But it was an illness during her junior year that cemented her connection with the university.

Just before fall semester finals, she become so ill with Guillain-Barre syndrome that she had to go home to Arizona and spent two months in the hospital and the rest of the spring semester in rehabilitation.

Initially, her doctors couldn’t persuade her to relax, but her former resident assistant, John Trifiletti ’78 (BA), connected her with all of her professors. They kept in touch and encouraged her to take as much time as she needed to recover.

“All of my teachers sent notes saying, ‘Don’t worry about your finals. You’ll have plenty of time to make them up.’ My teachers were amazing,” she recalls. “I just felt indebted to the campus, and it’s still that way today.”

Both she and her husband, Marco, who met at USD but didn’t start dating until later, are part of a three-generation USD family. After Marco graduated in 1984, his father, Frank Alessio, served on the Board of Trustees for 31 years from 1986 to 2017  and was the vice chair of the board for eight years between 2009 and 2016.

While Kim’s mother, Marcie Amory, didn’t attend USD, she was raised in Sacred Heart schools, the order to which the university’s co-founder, Mother Rosalie Clifton Hill, belonged. Raised in Arizona, Kim spent her summers in San Diego. “USD was the only place I wanted to go,” she recalls. “I can’t imagine what would have happened if they turned me down.”

Today, daughter Ally ’21 (pictured with her parents) is majoring in international business and marketing at USD, while son Matthew chose to go to the University of Oregon.

The couple were thrilled to see Ally follow in their footsteps. “It’s a perfect school for her because it’s just big enough where she can have lots of friend and activities but small enough that she can blossom,” says Marco. 

In addition to supporting USD financially, they’ve also been active volunteers. Through June of 2021, Kim is president of the USD Alumni Association Board while Marco is president of the USD Parents Board. Their enthusiasm and love for USD is readily apparent.

“I’ve so enjoyed connecting with alumni and seeing how committed the board is to keeping alumni engaged for life,” says Kim.

For Marco, a long-time financial advisor with Morgan Stanley, giving back was a family tradition, “part of my DNA,” he says. In addition to serving on the Alumni Board, much of his early support went to athletics as USD
grew its basketball and other sports programs.

In the last few years, he’s also become passionate about supporting USD students who are at risk for food insecurity and homelessness.

He and Kim first learned about those issues while serving on the parent board at Oregon. “Of course with USD, you didn’t think that happened,” he says. “We all know USD — a paradise on top of the hill.”

After becoming aware that those issues do exist at USD, he’s played a leading role in encouraging the Parents Board to provide more support “to help those at-risk kids who can’t eat, don’t have a place
to sleep, can’t afford a textbook” or have other needs like flying home during a family emergency.

“It’s definitely an issue that’s becoming more front and center and I think that’s great,” he says. — Liz Harman

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