CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Smart? The words in his bio say it all. Phi Beta Kappa. Magna cum laude. Two master's degrees. Doctorate in classical studies. Studied in Italy and Germany. Lectured on grammar, classical civilization and political philosophy.
In high school, his main extracurricular activity was chess. He excelled, of course.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Brian Calabrese is a brain.
All this from the grandson of an Italian immigrant who worked as a school janitor.
At 32, the quiet, soft-spoken Massachusetts native uses his enviable intellect as a public utility lawyer at Robinson and McElwee, a position he accepted last August after interning there the summer before.
A slender build reflects interests beyond the intellectual: He's an avid runner.
"I'm from Amherst, Mass., a college town in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts.
"Education was an important thing in my family. My paternal grandparents had very little education. They never even went to high school.
"My grandfather was a first generation Italian immigrant. After the war, he was a janitor in the local school system. My grandmother worked in a factory making shoes until the '70s.
"They lived in a small town in southeastern Massachusetts. My father went to a small college there and became a high school teacher. That led to graduate school ultimately.
"My father is a professor of toxicology at the University of Massachusetts. His brother is professor of education at Ohio State University. I have one brother, a graduate student in chemistry.
"Growing up, I wanted to be a professor of American history. In fourth grade, we had an exercise on what you wanted to do when you grow up and mine was about getting a Ph.D. in American history. Throughout high school, I wanted to go to graduate school and do doctoral work. I was just trying to decide what field to go into.
"Through high school, chess was my main extracurricular activity. I was on the chess team and we did quite well. In eighth grade, we won the state championship. I still play chess with a computer from time to time but haven't done anything competitively since high school.
"I did my undergraduate work in the classics at Bowdoin College on the coast of Maine. Classics is the study of Latin and Greek language and literature primarily with some culture and history.
"I started studying Latin in seventh grade. We could choose from a number of languages and I thought Latin would be interesting. My high school offered Greek my last two years and I took that, too.
"I had an affinity for languages that weren't spoken. I think it was just the formal, mathematical way of working through the grammar, like a puzzle in a way. You put the words together in different forms and try to get the right answer.
"I was certain I was going to become a college professor and teach Latin and ancient Greek. That changed as time went on.
"I went to Italy to study in my first semester as a junior at Bowdoin. After I graduated and before I went to pursue my doctorate at the University of Michigan, I participated in an archeological dig in the south of Italy. It was amazingly extraordinary.
"We were at a vacation community south of Naples and south of Pompeii. We were digging up a Greek religious building. There is a very well preserved ancient city there with a couple of the best examples of Greek religious architecture anywhere.