Giving to Park University

Jim Cariddi Encourages Young People in Their Pursuit of Education

Jim Cariddi, Park Donor
"Become well-educated — it can't be taken away from you,"
are words of advice from Jim Cariddi to today's students. He is grateful for his role models that encouraged his love for learning that helped provide him with the tools and the resources to attend college.

Jim's father, a Sicilian immigrant, was one of the few members of the Italian neighborhood that they lived in who could read and write in Italian. Neighbors would call on him to translate letters they received from Italian relatives and respond on their behalf.

His father said, "Do you see how important a good education is? I can help these people."

Cariddi's other influential role model was Rev. Bisceglia who ran the Italian Mission, a modest program for neighborhood youth designed to help young people of Italian heritage through education. Rev. Bisceglia hired students from Park College to tutor the boys and teach them about life. Cariddi enjoyed school and, to this day, can remember the names of all of his teachers. Studying did not come easy, but he persisted and strived for excellence.

Cariddi, who was unable to afford college tuition, was told by Rev. Bisceglia, "If you want to attend college, we will find a way."

A member of his congregation helped make it possible for Cariddi to enroll in Park University (then Park College) in 1944. The country was thick in WWII when Cariddi finished his first two semesters at Park. He joined the Navy V-5 program in which students trained to be pilots while attending school. Upon returning to Park at the end of the war, he resumed his studies in mathematics with the goal to teach in the same high school he attended in his youth. After earning his bachelor's degree in mathematics and his masters in secondary school administration from the University of Missouri, he was hired at Northeast Senior High School in Kansas City.

For 32 years, Cariddi taught mathematics in secondary education. Now retired, he continues to encourage young people in their pursuit of education. He spends his time tutoring at Steppingstone, a youth home in Independence, Missouri, and teaching at Longview Community College. Cariddi's military service, his four daughters with his loving wife Mae and his professional triumphs are remarkable accomplishments. However, he recognizes the support and encouragement he received during his first 16 years of life as that which provided the impetus for it all- the opportunity to pursue higher education.

Through Park, Cariddi gained the passion to help others. He and his wife created the Jim Cariddi Endowed Scholarship in order to evoke and honor the kind gifts he received as a young man. Each month, Cariddi and his wife make a gift toward establishing this endowment and have arranged to have the endowment completed with a bequest from their estate. The scholarships that will be made available from this endowment will benefit incoming freshmen who demonstrate need at Park University that they might have the same educational opportunities that Cariddi received.