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This Alumnus Still Treasures his Beta Rho Friendships

“Sigma Nu has been important to me because of the ongoing relationships with my brothers. When we get together, I still enjoy their company. I don’t regret for a moment my choice to join Sigma Nu. It’s really all about the people.”
-Michael Armellino ’61

For most brothers, Sigma Nu made a lasting impact on us, and Michael Armellino is no exception.

Michael went through the typical rush process, ultimately joining Beta Rho Chapter because of the chemistry he felt with the brothers of Sigma Nu.

Today, he says, “The chemistry is still good. We’re a little older, but I still enjoy my brothers’ company. I made the right decision all those years ago.”

As a testament to those lasting friendships, Michael is one of about ten brothers from his era who gather each year for an annual Christmas lunch in Philadelphia.

“When we met this past December, I told them if I were going to do it all over again, I would want to be with the same group of people,” he says.

Michael served as president of the chapter during his senior year, which turned out to be a valuable learning experience.

“It was very helpful for me,” he explains. “I was 21 years old, and that was a level of responsibility I never had before. It taught me about leadership and about my weaknesses and strengths.”

“When I joined the fraternity, Penn looked to me to be a very big place, and joining Sigma Nu was a way to meet people with whom I had common interests and narrow the scale down a bit,” he says.

As it turns out, those friends made at Sigma Nu have remained a part of Michael’s life—and were even present during some of life’s most important events.

“My classmate and fraternity brother, Dr. Frank Cianciulli, introduced me to the woman I married,” Michael says.

“Two of my fraternity brothers—Richard Study ’60 and John Niccollai ’61—were in my wedding party when I got married in 1963,” he added. “The other two members of the wedding party were people I had grown up with, and that was a pretty big deal for me to have them all there.”

John was in the same class as Michael and Richard was his big brother when he was a pledge.

“Friendship was clearly the greatest gift that I gained from Sigma Nu,” says Michael.

However, leadership skills and acceptance follow closely behind.

“I also learned a little bit about leadership, especially being president, and how to deal with people from different backgrounds,” he adds. “I came from West New York, New Jersey, a relatively poor neighborhood, and most of the people I met at Penn, including my Sigma Nu brothers, came from very different backgrounds.”

Today, Michael is one of Beta Rho chapter’s loyal donors as a tribute to his positive experience.

“I’ve contributed to a lot of different causes,” he explains. “In the case of Sigma Nu, it’s about that emotional attachment to my youth and what I learned about myself. I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence when I arrived at Penn, and I developed in many ways during my four years there. I try to give back to all the organizations that have shaped who I am.”

Beta Rho certainly did that—as Michael and his late wife, Patricia, attended a Sigma Nu jungle party on their first date.

These days, Michael is retired and lives in North Beach, New Jersey with his partner Beverly Karch.

He retired in 1994 after a 25-year career with Goldman Sachs where he was a partner for 12 years.

Up until last year, Michael also served on several charitable boards and on the Board of Canadian National Railway. However, his most treasured time is spent with his three children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

“The single biggest influence on my life was adopting three boys who turned out to be great sons, fathers, husbands, and citizens.” Michael says.

He and his wife decided to adopt after learning Patricia wasn’t able to have more children after the birth of their daughter.

They were soon blessed with an opportunity to adopt three brothers into their family. Now that they’re grown, Michael still gets to see them and their children often.

“They all live in New Jersey, which isn’t a big place, so I get to see them quite a bit,” he says. “That’s a very important part of my life.”