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Testimonials from students about the USF Italian Program!

Studying Italian at the University of South Florida has shaped me into the person I am today. Words cannot describe my passion for Italy; for its language, its culture, its food and its people. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Italian program at USF. It was not only a department but also a small family. The professors were helpful and very passionate about teaching Italian, which made learning Italian exciting. Two springs ago I had the opportunity to study abroad for a semester in Florence, Italy thanks to the financial help I acquired by being a recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. In my semester abroad I realized that I was not done with Italian and that I wanted to live in Italy again. Right before graduating I applied for a paid internship to teach English at one of the schools in Lombardy through the SITE PROGRAM. I was accepted and I am currently living and working in Crema, Italy. If it wasn't for my desire to study Italian and the Italian program at USF for allowing it I would not be here today. ~ Gianexis Lopez

Gianexis Lopez Gianexis Lopez

For me, majoring in Italian came naturally; my mother is Italian from the city of Genova, which is nestled in the Italian Riviera. Growing up, English and Italian were the main languages of the household in New York. RAI television blasted from the television and my mother would pour the fear of God down our throats by often reading to us Dante’s Inferno, as a reminder to behave well. Yet when I enrolled in USF for the first time in 2009 and triple majored in International Relations, French, and Italian, I had little clue of one thing that Italian is as well; a vital language for those pursuing a career in International Relations.
Having colonized both the African Horn and Libya and with Brazil hosting the largest population of Italian citizens outside of Italy, Italian is the language that opens your doors to the world. Majoring in Italian permitted me to understand other areas of the world with considerable Italian influence and understand the major player Italy is in world governance. I managed to get a grasp of this as well when I was President of the Italian Culture Club from 2011 to 2012 and noticed members relating their “Italianess” whether they were from Italy proper or even Somalia!
It has also provided me with an unimaginable amount of opportunities. During my last semester at USF, I was hired as Italian Communications and Social Media Intern at KAX Media in Tampa. I was responsible to engage with both an Italian and European media, write press releases in Italian, and even manage the company’s main Italian media site.
After having graduated with my triple degree in 2012, I moved to Paris where my Italian degree continued to play a vital role in my career path. In France, I worked as European and Latin American Communications Specialist and my Italian degree permitted me to help many Italian companies to launch in countries like Argentina and Brazil, where the Italian community is quadruple to that of the Tri-state area.

Currently, I am Committees and Projects Officer at an International Organization in London (the ISUOG). Once again, my Italian degree has been paramount as Italian is one of the languages of the organization. The organization itself deals with Italian NGO’s (such as Fondazione Francesca Rava) and is involved actively in both Somalia and Eritrea; ex Italian colonies where the language is still key in providing charitable aid.

For anyone looking to expand in International Relations, I highly recommend the B.A in Italian. Italian is more than Gucci, spaghetti alla carbonara, and Monica Bellucci - Italian is the language of the world, as well as the language of dreams. And dreams are worth fighting for, aren’t they? ~ Jesus Anthony Baez, Class of 2012

Jesus Anthony Baez

I graduated from USF in 2008 with a double major in Humanities and Italian. Studying Italian language and culture was truly a life-changing experience for me. The Italian department was a tight-knit group of students and professors who shared my love for all things Italian. I always looked forward to my Italian classes because of the small class size and the inviting atmosphere the professors created. For me, majoring in Italian at USF meant so much more than studying the culture of Italy. My experience in the Italian department introduced me to a whole community of Italians and Italophiles in Tampa, and gave me access to information about events that I could attend nearly every week--ranging from conversation groups and films, to festivals with the Italian Club in Ybor City. Studying Italian at USF deeply enriched my undergraduate experience.

As a sophomore at USF I had the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, at which point I fell in love with Italy--as so many people do! After my first trip to Italy and many Italian courses at USF, I realized that I wanted Italian culture to play a major role in my future. Soon after graduation I moved to Milan, and then to a small town near Livorno, to work as an au pair. This venture allowed me to immerse myself in Italian culture and to become more confident speaking the language. I entered graduate school in 2009, and I am currently a second year PhD student in Art History. Professor La Trecchia's passion for southern Italy piqued my interest in this region very early on and inspired me to write my Master's Thesis on 15th-century Neapolitan sculpture. I hope to pursue dissertation research in this electrifying city and, as always, I am looking forward to my next trip to Italy (whenever that may be)!
~ Nicole Riesenberger

Nicole Riesenberger Nicole Riesenberger

Ciao Professoressa, I wanted to thank you for making my return to school and also my experience at USF an enjoyable one. I was little nervous at returning back to school after such a long time but you as well as other professors made my anxieties subside. I still got intimidated at times at my ability to speak the language but I am still working at that. I listened to your advice and words of wisdom and they resonated with me and made me realize that I really am doing what I enjoy and what I am meant to do with my life and I look forward to the next chapter of my life to begin and that I have to keep pushing forward. I will begin graduate school in January and I just owe a lot of people a big thank you and you are one of those on my list. So I thank you and wish you well in everything and that you enjoy your sabbatical in Italy and maybe if I can make it over there, we will run into each other. Buona serata Professoressa e tanti auguri per il futuro. ~ Eric De Donatis, Class of 2013

Eric De Donatis

Originally, I began studying Italian simply to avoid losing what I had learned of the language as a teenager.  My participation in the Italian Program at USF, however, has given me much more than just language skills; it has provided me with valuable resources, job opportunities, genuine friends, and great memories.  It is through my involvement in the Italian Program that I obtained my first job.  An advertisement on Blackboard asked for an Italian student interested in doing some translation work for a local author; although I had never thought to use my Italian language skills for translation work (after all, my ambitions at that time were set on becoming US Ambassador to Italy, not being a translator) I decided to respond to the ad. After meeting the author and completing some practice translations, I was offered the position. The work was tedious and time-consuming, but I was able to finish the project over the course of a year. In that year, I was fortunate enough to create a friendly rapport with the author of the memoir which I was translating. She was a strong-willed and heart-warming 90-year-old woman who had led an eventful life, experiencing firsthand the history most of us have only ever read on the pages of a textbook. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working for Adriana, and I felt privileged to have known such an extraordinary individual. She passed away shortly after her memoir was translated and published; she will be missed, but her story lives on through the memories of which she wrote in her book.*

Having enjoyed work as a translator, I decided to try my hand at teaching Italian to others. I was offered a position as Italian language tutor with USF Learning and Tutoring Services. I worked as a tutor for almost two years, and I enjoyed teaching the language I love so much to such enthusiastic students. Not only did we learn the basics and grammar of Italian, but we discussed the culture, the people, and the history of Italy. I cherished the opportunity to share with others the beautiful memories I had growing up in Italy.

My experience as an Italian tutor in turn led me to pursue job opportunities in the education sector that coincided with my second BA in International Studies. I was fortunate enough to discover Gulf Coast Refugee Services, a non-profit organization that assists refugee children that have been resettled in the Tampa Bay area with English language acquisition and overall acculturation. Understanding the difficulty in learning a new language has also helped me to relate to these incredible children who have endured so much and still have a great deal of ambition and desire to succeed. My time at Refugee Youth Services has been one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, and I would trade it for nothing in the world.

I also currently work as an Italian translator for Odyssey Marine Exploration. After working for Adriana, I realized I rather enjoy translation work. Although it can be monotonous, it exercises the brain and constantly expands your knowledge of a language. I hope to always have the opportunity to perform some sort of translation work.

As far as my next step, I have been invited, thanks to the assistance and generous recommendation of Professoressa LaTrecchia, to participate in the SITE internship in Bergamo. I am very excited to continue to use my Italian to pursue other opportunities, and I am forever thankful to the Italian Program at USF and Dr. Patrizia LaTrecchia for guiding me down a path of such diverse and remarkable experiences! Grazie! ~ Natalie Wood, Class of 2012

*Watch a video about Adriana Laghi and her memoir here.

Natalie Wood

When I changed one of my majors to Italian Studies during my second semester at USF, I hadn't a clue of the journey I was about to embark on. The Italian Program provided me with a profound experience that offered many unique advantages.

In the fall of my sophomore year, I studied abroad in Florence for a life-changing semester. My time in Italy introduced me to new and different perspectives and it helped to broaden my mind. It also accelerated my learning and prepared me to continue my studies when I returned to USF. The great thing about a major like this is that the option to study abroad is not just available, but highly encouraged (and rightfully so).

The best part of the Italian Program is that it forms its own community. Most of the class sizes are quite small, yet still remain diverse, so it is easy to make friends and work with classmates. Even the quiet introverts can feel comfortable in group discussions. The small classes also provide a great opportunity to get to know the professors on a personal level, which is rare in many other fields. Each professor that I encountered in the program was an expert in her subject area, filled with the passion to teach and the dedication to ensure that each student succeeds.

The classes were fun and exciting, and oftentimes we got to get up and move around, making the lessons that much more engaging. And outside of the classroom, there always seemed to be something to do with the group: a lecture in Ybor City, a film presentation in Hyde Park, or a night out for pizza downtown. These events built a foundation for students to expand their knowledge of Italian culture while also formulating bonds with one another. Even now, I remain in contact with many of my former classmates, and with Dr. LaTrecchia, who is always eager to hear from an old student.

Currently I am living in Rome, working at a British newspaper. Though the publication is in English, my Italian language skills and cultural knowledge are critical to my position. I communicate in Italian on a daily basis and my background on Italy's political economy is necessary for me to understand stories and develop analyses. Without Dr. LaTrecchia's continual commitment to the program, and her dedication to my own success, I probably would not be where I am.

I am very grateful for the things that I learned in my Italian Studies courses. The knowledge I gained was not just exclusive to the discipline, but relevant to life as well. My experiences with the program really helped me grow as a person, and they continue to hold a meaningful impact on my life. ~ Andrew Gargano, Class of 2011