Originally published in The Statesman (January 31, 2011)
Jeanine Rescigno, a Stony Brook University journalism student, bartender and sports fanatic, died last week when her car rear-ended a sports utility vehicle on the William Floyd Parkway in Shirley, according to police.
Rescigno, 29, was set to graduate next spring with a degree in journalism and looked forward to starting a career as a sports reporter. According to her brother Robert Rescigno, she was crazy about sports and was in love with the Yankees, mainly Derek Jeter.
“She was a big sports freak, she tried turning me into a Yankee fan,” he said. “She wanted to get people to acknowledge and see sports like she did.”
She was talented. As a musician, she played the piano and violin, and as an athlete, she played soccer when she was a kid. She had the potential to play for years, but she changed her mind and decided she wanted to be a journalist.
“At anything she did, she was the best at it,” said her brother. “She deserved so much more then what she got. All she ever wanted was to find someone and settle down and be happy.”
When her mother died in February 1997, Rescigno took on the motherly roll. Her father was devastated and brothers were only 10 and 15.
She took her time to teach herself how to cook, helped her brothers with their homework.
“She did whatever she could for me and my brother,” said her brother. “I’d have been lost without her and wouldn’t be the man I am today without her guidance.”
She wanted to live her life the way her mother lived her life.
Her biggest accomplishment and challenge was school. She did not go straight to college after high school. Instead, she got a job and went back to school later. First to Suffolk Community College then later Stony Brook.
She paid for school herself, and worked at Molly’s Irish Pub in Brookhaven.
Rescigno was loved and admired by her friends and professors.
“She was pretty fearless, not intimidated by anyone, least of all her professors,” said Julia Mead, adjunct lecturer for the Stony Brook School of Journalism. “She was not afraid to raise her hand in class critically analyzing everything she heard.”
She loved journalism and was looking forward to graduating this spring. Rescigno has witten stories for The Statesman on the AETNA contract negotiation.
“She was not afraid to tackle difficult things.” Mead said. “I would call her driven, she did everything with an intensity, she showed you she was determined to do the best possible job.”
Though a stand-out student, Rescigno was worried about her age and her chances of getting a job after graduation. Her age was part of what drove her to be better than everyone else.
Classmates would sometimes tease her about her age but she laughed it off, she got a kick out of it, her brother said.
According to her brother, countless people showed up at the services, evidence of the impact she had.
“If she was your friend, she was your best friend,” he said.
“She was such a free spirit, and her stories were worth everyone’s undivided attention. I mean, who didn’t appreciate a soul so genuine like hers?” said Rescigno’s friend and classmate Katherine Gonzalez. “Words can truly not explain how much pain I am in but how happy I am, and also how lucky I feel of having met her, a person that has changed my whole outlook on life. Her memory will truly live on in my heart.”