Anna Maria College is known for developing hard-working professionals who make a difference in their communities. This legacy of compassionate leadership is demonstrated by the graduates who go out into the real world to gain experience then share their knowledge as professors.  

Two recent alumni are returning to campus this fall to teach. Matthew J. Parizo ‘21 G’22 and Xavier Harrelle ‘22 will serve as fire science adjunct professors and impart their expertise to another generation of fire science students.  

Matthew J. Parizo 

Matthew J. Parizo grew up in Groton, CT and joined the fire service when he was just 17 years old and now serves in Old Mystic, CT. As a student, Matthew was drawn to Anna Maria College because it was one of the only institutions that had a four-year bachelor’s degree in fire science. Matthew had also heard that Anna Maria College had a strong reputation among those in the fire science field.  

During his time as an undergraduate student, Matthew became very involved on campus. He credits Anna Maria College for developing his leadership skills. 

“I entered college as a shy, young man and was thrown into numerous positions including Fire and Emergency Services Association (FESA) President, FDIC Liaison, and the Anna Maria College Class of 2021 Commencement Speaker. By doing so, I grew into someone who matured much faster than most and was given many chances which I am grateful for,” Matthew said.  

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fire science and a minor in emergency management in 2021, Matthew continued his education at Anna Maria College and earned a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in fire and emergency services in March of 2022. 

Now that he is an Anna Maria alum, Matthew is excited that he can give back to the college community as an educator.  

“I am extremely excited to be an adjunct professor because during my time at Anna Maria, the professors in the fire science program helped me,” Matthew said about becoming an adjunct, “Whether it be in the classroom, life guidance, or just chatting, they were always there. I hope to be able to give back to the students as my professors did for me.” 

Xavier Harrelle 

Xavier Harrelle is from Killingly, CT. From a young age, Xavier knew his dream was to work in the fire service. He joined a cadet program at 14 years old, became an EMT at 16 years old, and joined as a firefighter at 18 years old. Currently, he works as a full-time firefighter and paramedic in the Central/Western Connecticut area for a department that responds to over 10,000 calls a year.  

Xavier was originally drawn to Anna Maria College because of the small class sizes and the ability to create professional relationships with professors.  

“Another aspect of the college campus that struck me by surprise was the level of respect and kindness that existed from so many students and professors alike. The professors get to know all their students on a first name basis,” Xavier said about his experience as a student.  

In 2022, Xavier graduated from Anna Maria College with his bachelor’s in emergency management and certificate in paramedicine and is currently enrolled for his master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in fire and emergency services. 

Xavier is a proud Anna Maria graduate who is looking forward to leading his own classes once the Fall semester starts. After his personal experience as a student, he wants prospective students to understand the positive impact that an Anna Maria College degree will have on their future careers and personal development. Xavier is a proud alum who is happy to continue his journey with Anna Maria College as a graduate student and professor.   

“Anna Maria’s Fire Science program is the superior option in New England, if not the nation. By being able to compile a faculty team that has the education, passion, and practical experience to back up everything they teach is second to none,” Xavier said, “Our faculty ensures that every student who enters the door has every opportunity possible to be successful throughout their years at Anna Maria and be career ready by the time they walk across the stage on graduation day.”