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Silvana Rotulo, Luigi ZanettinA University of Windsor memorial scholarship honours engineering grad Luigi Zanettin, pictured here with his wife, Silvana Rotulo.

Grad’s determination inspires memorial scholarship

Most people say they’ve never met anyone quite like Luigi Zanettin.

As a son, he always carved out time to fish and hunt with his dad and once gave up six months’ worth of Saturdays to help his father refurbish a fire truck for firefighters in Africa.

As a husband, he bought his wife flowers every week and worked two jobs while attending school so they could build a future together.

As a student, he never missed class and his curiosity-driven questions propelled him to the top of his program. Even after he was delivered a blow in 2013 when he found out he had a rare form of cancer, he never slowed down.

“When he had every reason to say I’ve had enough, he fought against it,” said Bill Altenhof, a University of Windsor mechanical and materials engineering professor who mentored the 27-year-old through graduate studies. “He just simply would never quit; I was awestruck by his level of determination.”

Zanettin fought the aches and pains, the weight loss and weakness from radiation and chemotherapy. His rhabdomyosarcoma — a disease that causes cancer cells to form in muscle tissue — caused vision loss and weakness that left him dependent on a cane.

Determined to finish his Master of Applied Science (MASc) degree, Zanettin would bring his laptop to the cancer clinic during chemotherapy treatments and later, to hospice, when he was too weak to stay at home. Weeks before he passed away peacefully surrounded by family and friends on July 10, 2014, UWindsor president Alan Wildeman made a special trip to the Hospice of Windsor & Essex County Inc. to confer Zanettin’s MASc degree.

Zanettin’s drive and devotion to his education prompted professor Jacqueline Stagner to establish a scholarship in his name. Donations came flooding in from family, friends and people who were touched by Zanettin’s story and in less than four months, reached the $25,000 required for endowment.

Starting in fall 2017, a $1,000 Luigi Zanettin Memorial Scholarship will be given annually to a student who transfers from an advanced technology diploma at a college to an undergraduate engineering program at UWindsor — the same academic path Zanettin took.

Read more about the Luigi Zanettin Memorial Scholarship and the man who inspired this gift in the full story, “Scholarship keeps student's legacy alive,” published in the Faculty of Engineering Spring Newsletter.

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