Senior Italian Major Sarah Ventimiglia remarked that the close community she’s been a part of within RLL’s Italian program for the past four years has played an integral role in her undergraduate experience.

“I really haven’t found that in other programs,” Ventimiglia commented. “It is a great environment.” She highlighted that the Italian program’s smaller size allowed her to connect with faculty and fellow students. She noted that she valued the opportunity to progress through the curriculum with a core group of classmates.

Ventimiglia, Co-President of U-M’s Women’s Club Soccer team, said that one of her favorite courses has been Italian 271: Language In Action – Calcio: The Italian National Sport, with Prof. Pierluigi Erbaggio. “I learned so much about the history of soccer. Way more [history] than I ever thought there was,” she noted. “It was fun being in the class.”

Another memorable course for Ventimiglia has been Prof. Alison Cornish’s Italian Renaissance Literature course (387), which focuses on Ariosto’s epic poem, Orlando furioso. “It was nice it was a small class,” she mentioned. “I think people were less nervous to talk.”

Ventimiglia began learning Italian as a high school freshman, inspired by a desire to develop stronger ties with her family’s Italian heritage. She noted that her recent Italian study abroad experience also played a role in helping her pursue this goal. Last summer while studying in Florence for six weeks, she had the opportunity to travel to her grandmother’s home city of Salerno, on the Amalfi Coast. “I feel an even stronger connection to my grandma, seeing the places where she has talked about for years,” she shared.

Ventimiglia said the background she gained in Italian literature and culture through her U-M Italian courses prepared her well for her study abroad coursework. She commented that the largest strides she made while abroad centered around her Italian conversation skills. “I loved being able to speak it every day,” she remarked.

Ventimiglia, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree, plans to become a Physician Assistant, and is completing the prerequisites for medical school along with her Italian major requirements. She said she envisions the possibility of using her Italian language skills in her future career. “I think it would be really cool to one day to incorporate that into my medicine, as another aspect of a social connection with patients,” she noted.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Ventimiglia