Editor's Note: Newsday.com is catching up with former Long Island prom kings and queens to reflect on being named royalty and see what they're up to now. If you're a former Long Island high school prom king or queen and would like to participate, email email@example.com.
Before the North Babylon High School junior prom of 1997, Michael DellaUniversita remembers that all of his friends showed up at his house for a photo shoot.
“My mother wanted to have everyone over,” he said while looking back on the pre-prom meet-up held in his driveway. Fran DellaUniversita said she was always happy to host.
"My door was always open to all of [Michael's] friends," she said. "This was the place to come. I hosted everybody before the proms, and the parents came over, as well."
Later that evening, Michael DellaUniversita was crowned junior prom king of North Babylon High School before heading to a comedy club and spending two nights on the Jersey Shore with his friends.
When it was time to turn the page from teenage rites to future plans, his mom proved as effective at guiding career decisions as she was directing photo shoots.
After high school, he said that he was thinking about going into advertising or marketing but she helped steer him in the right direction as his undergrad years at Ithaca College came to a close.
"But I think I was a little immature in high school, and I didn’t know what career path I wanted to take," he said. "My mother pushed me to take the entry exam into law school... I ended up loving it."
She remembers the application process like it was yesterday.
"It was tedious, but he always talked about law in his senior year of college... He was gung-ho on doing that, and he turned out to be very successful."
DellaUniversita studied at Hofstra University, and is now a personal injury attorney. Five years ago, he became a partner at Ronkonkoma-based Gruenberg Kelly Della.
He laughed while saying he feels “almost ashamed” to reside in West Islip, not because he dislikes where he lives, but just because Babylon will always be his home at heart.
“I loved Babylon,” he said. “I loved football. We won the championship senior year, and that was everything to me. I can’t remember having a bad day back in high school… Everything I was taught there and everything I did there led me to where I am today.”
Fran DellaUniversita has lived in North Babylon for 56 years now. As she looked back on all of her son's achievements, from football to law, she put it simply:
"Proud isn't even the word. He's doing so terrific. He's a great kid."