The Antoinette Carbone Tarini Scholarship was established by her sons Mark and Anthony Tarini in memory of their mother (B.A., 1987; M.A., 1993) for undergraduate students majoring in a foreign language seeking to gain a deeper understanding of other cultures through their study of a foreign language and/or participation in the SCSU study abroad programs.
“Antoinette Tarini.” It was the name called so many times as a course began at Southern Connecticut State University. Immediately, the rather timid voice would reply, “Here, but it’s Annette.” One couldn’t help but note that in the words was a crisp certainty about the change, accompanied by a winning smile at the professor. Thus would begin the relationship that led Annette to complete requirements and elective courses leading to a B.A. in 1987 at age 68 and an M.A. in 1993 at age 74!
Born in 1919 to Italian immigrants Paul and Theresa Carbone, Annette was raised in New Haven and graduated from Hillhouse High School at age 16. Though an excellent student, she did not attend college because that was not the typical or expected path for a person of her social standing, particularly a woman. She married, raised two boys and mightily battled breast cancer in her 50s. As her youngest son finished high school in the late 1970s, she decided to take a single course at Southern, as part of its program focused on senior citizens. One course led to another, which led to another, and soon enough Annette enrolled herself in the foreign language program in pursuit of her baccalaureate! Her favorite studies were those that followed the language faculty down sunny Italian country roads and past ancient Roman villas, into famous Parisian monuments and postcard villages. She was at home in any milieu to which a book or lecture could take her, and, driving to the University in her little car, she would — after checking in with some conversation at the attendant’s gatehouse — make her way slowly, surely, and on time to her classes.
She was never late, never absent, never angry, never inattentive. Although her age placed her in a different chronological place from her classmates, she would be part of the group from day one, learning the students’ names and majors before the professor could, and ready to join in all work circles with a laugh, a smile, and a willingness to help. Although she was quick to master the computer, there were no hand-held devices in her day, meaning that the Tarini brain could show its agility — adding up numbers and retaining statistics faster than any other around her. She was meticulously neat in her penmanship, using "white-out" to better create legible notes for each class. The word “outgoing” comes to mind when thinking of Annette, the term defining, beyond mere conviviality, her fearless determination to leave the home fires for a broader world view. Having herself travelled abroad with her late husband, she was able to add her own enthusiastic perspective to any discussion of landmarks or customs. Her way of having even more visits to France was to attend the French Club faithfully, baking delicious additions to the meetings, even ready to accompany the advisor to New York when it was time to purchase opera tickets or check out a student-friendly restaurant. Although her health was an issue of pains, threats, and difficulties, she bore it all resolutely and within herself, ready to take her cane and walk through the large Metropolitan Museum star shows at her own pace, always exchanging comments with other patrons. Her high grades led to membership in Who’s Who in American University Students, but few knew of the honor or the high grades.
One day Annette remarked, “Southern is my life. If I couldn’t come here, I’d die.” And, in a way, that is what she did. But to the end, she would ask what classes were being offered that semester, and how the students were progressing. A very devout woman, she was extremely fond of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, and once gave her French professor a short biography. Reading it now, the words from the biography are prescient of the university scholarship which henceforth, to honor Southern language students to come, will proudly bear Antoinette Carbone Tarini’s name: "My mission will begin after my death. I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses.”