Just three months after graduating from Suffolk’s North Campus MBA program, the Peabody, Mass., native not only won the Philadelphia Marathon, but also qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the process with a time of 2:17:28.

Going into the race, Vassallo had his heart set on qualifying for the Trials.

“The way I saw it, I’d rather finish sixth with a qualifying time, than win the race and not qualify,” he said.

But the 29-year-old speedster managed to accomplish both feats.

“I looked back with about 100 yards to go in the race, and that’s when I knew the qualifying time was going to be in hand,” Vassallo said. “When I didn’t see anyone behind me, I knew the win was going to me as well.”

His next goal on deck is the Olympic Trials, set to be held in Los Angeles this February. But in the meantime it’s back to work.

Vassallo works as a Senior Associate at GraVoc Associates, Inc., an IT consulting firm in Peabody. Up until his graduation this past August, he held that same, full-time position while taking MBA classes.

“Suffolk’s North Campus really had made me feel like everybody was in it together,” he said. “Everyone there was working full time; everyone had similar schedules, and everyone had similar goals. I feel like I made some lifelong friends there.”

Vassallo also noted the campus’s convenience and its Lawrence location’s close proximity to home.

“I remember Diane Demmer, the North Campus program coordinator, reaching out to me at a trade show many years ago, presenting it as a business school option without spending too much time sitting in traffic on 128,” he recalled.

“I was so impressed overall by the professors, too,” Vassallo added. “At Suffolk, the vast majority of the professors didn’t care about their own egos; they didn’t care about prestige— they cared about making sure we knew our stuff. There were quite a few classes where I told classmates, ‘I wish I cared about ANYTHING as much as our professor cares about our learning.’”

Although Vassallo became an expert at juggling his course work with training for a marathon, he said the training was a bit more manageable after he was finished with school.

“Having finished classes in August, being able to sleep full nights again definitely helped this time around,” he said. “But you learn to manage your time and make two, three, or four things the “most important thing in your life” simultaneously.”