Alumni Spotlight: Rose Marie Calicchio Dunphy '65

Alumni Spotlight: Rose Marie Calicchio Dunphy ’65
Finding Inspiration From Within
by Valerie Esposito

For Rose Marie Calicchio Dunphy ’65, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from the Brooklyn Campus, writing was always more than a hobby for her — it was a passion. Even during her years as a biology and earth science teacher, she knew she had a story to tell and that someday, she would write it down.

“Writing can be so therapeutic and rewarding,” Mrs. Dunphy said. “It is a wonderful way to express oneself. I feel that it is a human need as important as food.” 

As a retired teacher and self-published author of Orange Peels and Cobblestones, a coming-of-age novel that is largely based on her own life experiences, Mrs. Dunphy’s journey has taken her far from where it began. 

Born in Castellaneta, Italy, Mrs. Dunphy was adopted by an aunt and uncle in Brooklyn after being sent to live in America when she was 10 years old. Her family stayed behind in Italy, a decision made by her mother that left her traumatized and haunted by questions for most of her life.

“My novel incorporates real-life events and fiction that follow the themes of love, forgiveness and the immigrant experience,” Mrs. Dunphy said. “My childhood was too painful to write about for a long time so I pushed those feelings down and focused on my new life in America.”

Mrs. Dunphy settled in to her life in America and attended high school at St. Angela Hall Academy in Brooklyn, “a stepping stone” to St. Joseph’s College, before earning a master’s degree from Stony Brook University.

“I chose St. Joseph’s because it was close to home and many students from St. Angela’s did the same in those days,” Mrs. Dunphy said. “I received a wonderful education from truly inspirational teachers. To this day, I am so glad I went.”

After she graduated, she married her husband, a special education teacher, and started a family. When she gave birth to her first child, the experiences from her own childhood that she had been trying to forget for so many years, resurfaced and she began wondering how a mother could give up her child the way her own mother did.

“My novel is not exactly a memoir but it does explore the life of a young wife and mother who is struggling to free herself from her past and discover the truth about her tangled family life,” Mrs. Dunphy said. “The themes of the novel are central to my life and were very much inspired by my own experiences.”

While teaching and raising her children, she co-authored That First Bite: Chance or Choice, and wrote numerous essays and short stories for NewsdayThe New York Times and other publications. After she retired, she began to focus solely on her first novel. Since then, Mrs. Dunphy has been hard at work promoting the book at speaking engagements and book signings. She will be speaking to a women’s group in Albany this September, and while her first novel is being translated for her Italian fan base, a sequel is already in the works.

“As a writer, I can only judge my success by the reviews of my readers,” Mrs. Dunphy said. “When someone says they were able to relate to my story, I am both humbled and thrilled at the same time. I set out to tell my story and touch the lives of readers, and that is still the most important thing to me.”

As an accomplished author, avid reader and dedicated member of the writing club she started more than 20 years ago, Mrs. Dunphy offers this advice: “Be the best you can be at whatever you choose. Do something you love, even if it is only as a hobby while you work at what pays the bills. Never lose sight of what you love though.”

Mrs. Dunphy’s novel is now available on Amazon.com, in certain East End bookstores and will be coming to Barnes and Noble bookstores within the next few months. For more information or to purchase a copy of Orange Peels and Cobblestones, visit amazon.com


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