When did you start studying Italian? What sparked your interest in learning the language?
I began studying Italian at my elementary school in the North End of Boston, a primarily Italian neighborhood. There, my school offered Italian as the primary foreign language as an ode to the heritage of the community. In high school, I continued studying Italian and decided to make it one of my majors at U-M, as I was deeply interested in Italian history and art history.
What are your majors/minors? How did you choose these specific areas of study? What connections do you see between them?
I am double majoring in History and Italian with a minor in History of Art. As a freshman, I had no idea what I wanted to study, but I knew I wanted to continue my Italian studies. I took a wide range of classes and ultimately decided my passions lay in history and art history. To me, my degrees blend seamlessly together and both reinforce and build off of each other. Not only do I get to learn about different aspects of Italian culture but also about other global cultures that intersect with Italy.
What are some of your favorite Italian courses you’ve taken in RLL and why?
I have had nothing but great experiences in the RLL department; after finishing my foundational Italian requirements, I was fortunate enough to take two semesters in a row with Professor Vincenzo Binetti. The passion with which he led Italian 340: Contemporary Italian Culture, completely changed my relationship with my Italian degree. I was exposed to hallmarks of Italian literature and film that connected back to Italian political and economic events I had learned about in other classes. This gave me a completely new perspective on Italianità, or what it means to be Italian. In the fall of 2021, I took Professor Giulia Riccò’s Italian 422: Global Fascism: Legitimizing State Violence Across the Atlantic and took a deep dive into Italy’s perhaps most well-known and problematic period, fascism. For the first time in any of my history classes, I was able to contextualize Italian fascism with similar political movements in Spain and Portugal and even in South America.
What advice do you have for students considering pursuing an Italian major or minor?
Learning another language is one of the most valuable assets a student can have. It can not only diversify your career and open new doors for travel, but the knowledge of another culture can make you much more aware of your own. It has often been through Italian classes that I have looked at my life as an American through a different lens, giving me the ability to be both critical and grateful for the culture in which I was raised. I see the pursuit of an Italian major or minor as profoundly beneficial.
As a U-M student, what opportunities have you participated in related to your interest in Italian studies? What did you learn/gain from those experiences?
During my sophomore year, I participated in UROP and was able to contribute to a research project under Italian film professor Giorgio Bertellini about Italian neorealist film directors. It was an incredible opportunity in which I was able to not only learn about how to research, but I left with a great deal of knowledge about such a formative film movement, the impacts of which we see all over the film industry today.
Did you study abroad? If so, where? What was that experience like? Has studying abroad furthered your interest in studying Italian? If so, how?
This past winter semester of 2022 I studied abroad in Rome, an experience I had been anticipating all of my life. I was so thankful that COVID-19 did not prevent me from studying abroad, and it has been one of my most cherished memories of college. Although I came in well prepared linguistically, no classroom experience can prepare you for speaking a language in its native country with its native people. I was able to learn about so many linguistic nuances and behaviors and each day I found myself understanding more and more. I left with a newfound appreciation for the language, culture, and country and felt grateful to have had the experience.
What are your future plans and goals? What is next for you? How do you anticipate incorporating your Italian studies/skills into your next steps?
After I graduate I plan to pursue a career in public relations in the fashion industry. It has always been a goal of mine to live abroad, and I hope to move to Milan in the future, a city I visited and fell in love with in the spring. I hope that I can use my Italian language skills both at home and abroad throughout my career.