The Italian faculty at Drew is committed to providing a rich and stimulating curriculum through the latest pedagogical and multimedia tools. Our courses (language, literature, culture and cinema) are taught entirely in Italian.

Our major in Italian Studies and minor in Italian provide opportunities for students to acquire both proficiency in the Italian language, and a good knowledge and appreciation of Italy’s rich cultural tradition. We also offer courses in English on Italian culture and on the representations of the Holocaust in literature and films. Our alumni tell us that a major or minor in Italian always makes a difference in the job market and have found opportunities in very diverse areas of employment.

We strive to create a cultural and global awareness to make students appreciate the language and the culture of another country, in order to strengthen the intrinsic value of an undergraduate liberal arts education.

Thanks to the vicinity to New York City, students have the possibility to participate in community events (conferences, films, music and exhibitions) related to Italy, and our very active Italian Club organizes field trips, film screenings and lectures with international guests. The weekly Italian table provides another opportunity for students to practice their language skills outside the class. We have also an Italian Theme House, Piccola Italia, for students interested in living in an Italian-like setting.

Finally, students who want a full immersion in the language and culture of Italy can participate in the summer programs in Orvieto and in Cilento or apply for a study-abroad semester in Italy through the Center for Global Education.

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Drew Students Explain Why They Study Italian

Sabrina Fruci, Major: Economics, Major: Italian Studies

I came to Drew set on studying Economics and while I am still very passionate about markets and finance, the liberal arts education at Drew has given me exposure to countless other areas of academia. I originally took up Italian to cover my language requirement during my first semester and I have taken a course in the department every semester since then, planning to do so until I graduate. Raised in an Italian household as a first generation American, I felt that picking up Italian in college made the most sense. While I originally thought I knew quite a bit about Italy and its rich culture, my experience in the Italian department has shown me that I was only scratching the surface. From learning the foundations of this important romance language to various aspects of Italian society and culture, my understanding and appreciation for Italy has truly grown. Since my freshmen year, I have not only gained my Italian citizenship but I also had the opportunity to declare a special major in Italian Studies. My special major has allowed me to bring together coursework from all different areas of study: from Economics to History to Classics and even Art History. This goes to show the amazing impact Italians have had throughout history and various aspects of modern society. While I took up Italian for my family, I have found that a solid foundation in Italian is also extremely beneficial: from bringing forth a unique skill set to being able to converse with Italian speakers in Brussels on a three week Drew International Seminar to Brussels and London. The amazing faculty and diverse course selection in the Italian department has not only helped me grow as a student but also as an individual, giving me a brand new sense of confidence through the mastery of the language.

Joseph Gotto, Major: Neuroscience  Minor: Italian, Psychology

I am a third generation Italian-American with ancestors from the provinces of Naples and Salerno. My grandparents knew Italian but never taught it to my father. Before coming to Drew, I had never taken a course in Italian nor had I studied the language, even though it had always been a dream of mine to do so. So, Italian 101 during the Fall semester of my Freshman year was my first formal introduction to the Italian language. I’ll have to admit, I was a bit taken aback when my professor began speaking to us entirely in Italian right from the get-go, and I was a little unsure how well I would do in the class given my lack of experience in the subject. However, I soon began to fall in love with the Italian language and became determined to learn it as best as I could. Now, in my Junior year, I can proudly say that my decision to take Italian at Drew has made a great difference in my life. Now I am able to read novels, write essays and poems, watch movies, listen to music, and have meaningful conversations—all completely in Italian! Its crazy to think that just a short two years ago I didn’t know more than a few words of Italian. I’ve also had the opportunity to study abroad in Orvieto, Italy for a month as part of Drew’s Short-Term Study Abroad Program. Needless to say, my time abroad has contributed immeasurably to my proficiency in the Italian language. The perks of studying abroad are not strictly academic however; I’ve also made countless unforgettable memories such as taking a chocolate making class at Perugina, marveling at Michelangelo’s The David, swimming in Lake Bolsena, or simply enjoying a gelato under the heat of the Italian summer sun. All of this wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for my decision to study Italian at Drew and for the dedicated and passionate professors in the Italian department. I hope to be able to pass on my knowledge of the Italian language to my children and perhaps even work an Italian teacher.

Kevin Millan, Major: Political Science, Minors: Economics and Italian

I grew up in Colombia and when I had the chance to come study in the United States something that caught my attention was the possibility of studying other languages. Ever since I can remember I have been interested in the Italian culture and language, when I had the opportunity to take classes in High School I didn’t hesitate. During my Junior and Senior year of high school I took both Italian and French, I learned about two different cultures. However, Italian has always been more interesting to me. My first year at Drew I heard about the language requirement and as every young freshman you just think about fulfilling the general requirement and that’s all, however, once I began taking the Italian classes here;my perspective changed. My minors are Economics and Italian, and many ask me why and the only answer I can give is simply because I love it. As I learn more about the Italian culture I also learn how many opportunities it opens. By taking Italian I am already trilingual, thanks to the hard work of the professors and the great program offered at Drew University I can assure everyone that once you walk through the doors of your first Italian class, you will not want to just stand there but learn how to speak it fluently.

Kaden Bernstein, Major: Biology, Major: Italian Studies

My name is Kaden Bernstein and I am a Biology major with an Italian minor. My initial plan was not to study Italian when I entered Drew but after one semester I fell in love with the language. I had taken a serious interest in the language and the culture. Knowing a second language can give you the upper hand when applying for jobs and it’s also fun. I was lucky enough to get to travel abroad with Drew to Italy so that I could actually experience the culture. Being in Italy really strengthened my language skills and introduced me to everyday life there. It was a life changing experience. I’ve learned so much at Drew and each of the Italian professors have helped and encouraged me along the way.

Sabrina La Bianca, Major: Neuroscience, Special Major: Italian Studies, Minor: Psychology

Being born and raised in Italy for half of my life, I’ve always been exposed to the Italian culture and language.  Coming to Drew I was set on majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology and minoring in Italian.  This year I realized I only needed one more class to complete my Neuroscience major and Professor Occhipinti asked me about doing a special major in Italian Studies.  After talking to my family about it, I decided that I could make it happen if I would study abroad in Italy next semester, and instead of double majoring with Psychology I would just minor in it.  I love learning more about the Italian culture. I’m currently taking Italian for Business and it’s teaching me so much of how the networking and finance aspect works in Italy.  Because Italian is so different from Neuroscience it allows me to really have the Liberal Arts education that I came to Drew for.  The classes don’t cross over which makes completing the double major a little difficult but that much more rewarding.  Additionally the Italian major allows me to have flexibility in my decisions after I graduate from Drew.

David Riccio, Double Major: Biology and Business Studies, Minor: Italian

I became an Italian minor because in High school I was exposed to Italian culture and history, and wanted to continue my Italian studies at Drew.  The Italian program at Drew has allowed me to forward my understanding of the language and culture, and the passion of the professors made the process enjoyable. I really enjoyed learning about the rich history of Italy and how Italy played an important part in developing the world we live in today.  I feel my studies in Italian at Drew will help me in the future with whatever career path I take.

Barbara Diogo, Major: Mathematics, Minors: Sociology and Italian

I came in as undecided. I started by taking different types of classes. Initially, I was just going to opt out of the language requirement, because I am already fluent in Portuguese, and I understand two other languages. I just took Italian, because I thought it would be a fun class to counter balance my heavy work load. I liked it so much that a year later, when I had enough free credits, I decided to continue with this language. For someone who has never had any experience with the Italian language before, I think I am doing very well. It is not always easy to learn a new language, but it is worth it. I hope to one day be fluent in Italian. I am not sure if I will ever need to speak Italian in the future, but learning a new language is never a waste of time. If anything, it makes a person look more impressive, especially to future employers.

Ugomma Eze, Major: Neuroscience, Minors: Italian and Chemistry

I decided to minor in Italian because I am in love with the language. When I hear it spoken, I am almost tearful because it is so beautiful. I love the cadence in Italian speak, but the culture is what initially intrigued me about Italy, in general. I had always loved reading about the ancient Roman civilizations, and studied the Latin language in high school. Now, as an Italian minor in college, I am able to learn more about the modern culture. From the food to the fashion, arts and ancient ruins, what’s not to love about Italy?

Doreen Lucia Pennington, double Major Psychology and Spanish, Minor: Italian

As an Italian-American, I have chosen to study Italian to further my knowledge of my culture and because I love learning foreign languages. I think by studying a language, having studied Spanish as well, you further develop a knowledge and appreciation for another culture as well as your own. With the world changing, I feel that it is important to learn another language. I am impressed by Drew’s Italian program and it truly has been influential on some of my aspirations after graduation. I also have become a member of Drew’s Italian club, C.I.A.O, which I have found to be furthering my appreciation of Italian.

Lucianna Silvestri, Major: Spanish, Minors: Linguistics and Italian

Though i have grown up speaking half English half Italian in my home, my first real Italian class was at Drew. The first class I realized I didn’t speak standard Italian and that the way my grandma speaks is a way I can only speak with her. But speaking at home and in school is very important to me. The story of my family coming from Italy to the United States and what happened to their lives here; is a huge part of my identity. I also have family that left Italy and went to Argentina, and I have family that stayed in Italy. I have grown up in a proud Italian American household; and representing both cultures is who I am today. And for that I wanted to minor in Italian because I need to become fluent in order to represent my family (that is why I study Italian on a personal note). Academically, I study Italian because it is another language that I love. I am very interested in linguistics and I love languages and culture.

Victoria Korn, Major: Biology, Special Major: Italian Studies

I was always drawn to Drew’s small and personal community that allows students to not only explore opportunities for the future, but opportunities they may have never considered before. Taking Italian was a last minute decision for me during the summer before my freshman year. My family’s physician had passed away, and I learnt many things about him after his passing. He had graduated medical school in Bologna, and this helped him to become the incredibly caring and well-rounded physician he was. I decided taking Italian would aid in my abilities to become a successful doctor, especially if I wanted to go abroad as a physician. This became one of the best decisions of my Drew career, and in June of 2013 I traveled to Orvieto, Italy with ten other Drew students and Professor Occhipinti. Through this experience I discovered not only a passion for the language, but for the culture and the daily life of Italian citizens. I am continuing my studies in the Italian language and I am even considering a double major in Italian and Biology.

Amanda Rubin, Major: Neuroscience, Minor: Italian

I had always wanted to learn Italian because my mom’s side of the family is completely Italian, but we were 4th generation American, and no one really spoke the language anymore. My high school never offered Italian, so I knew when I came to Drew that I should take advantage of the opportunity to learn. I find the language to be so beautiful, and it’s been great learning about the culture of Italians versus Italian-Americans. As a science major, it’s actually a challenge to do something else every now and then, but it’s certainly worth it, and it’s something that makes me different from everyone else in my field.

Francesca Morabito, Major: Theatre, Minor: Italian

At the core of liberal arts is a passion for breadth of knowledge: a desire to reach out as far as we can into the world. Knowing only your first language is limiting, because it confines you to English-speaking places. I study Italian because I want to communicate with and access as much of this world as I can. I’ve watched my dad converse with strangers in Italian and learn their stories, and I want to begin my own adventures.  Italian is a gorgeously sophisticated language that has roots in art, cinema, and several other areas of historical significance. I am particularly drawn to Drew’s Italian program because of its passionate professors, who dedicate themselves to pushing students just past their comfort zones. This department is vibrant and pulsing with faculty who are excited and able to genuinely engage students with the Italian language and culture. I look forward to my future studies here and beyond (and abroad!).

Susan Weiner, Majors: Neuroscience and Math, Special Major: Italian

Growing up in an Italian-American family, I’ve always been surrounded by the Italian culture and have had a great love of its language.  Due to this I started taking Italian when I entered sixth grade, this love didn’t fade after years of taking the language, in fact it only grew.  So when I entered Drew, there was never any doubt that I would be continuing my Italian education.  Initially I planned to just minor in Italian, as I had an entirely complex workload as it was by double majoring in Math and Neuroscience.  However, as I entered Drew with a number of credits already, and found that I did in fact  have time in my schedule, I know there was no way to deny entering the Special Major program.  While it might at first seem completely unrelated to my other chosen fields, learning and understanding another nation’s culture and language will only aid me in my future endeavors as a researcher, by being able to relate to the people in my studies.

Antonino Imburgia, Major: Chemistry, Minor: Italian

I am minoring in Italian because my father is both an Italian and American citizen. Since my father was born in Italy I am able to apply for a dual citizenship. I wish to be able to speak with my father’s side of the family who still mostly live in Italy. I also love the culture, history, and cuisine of Italy.

Eduardo Moran, Major: Economics, Minors: Business Studies and Italian

I chose to minor in Italian at Drew because Italian is one of the languages that I want to learn throughout my life. I want to speak 7 different languages and I currently speak Spanish, English, Italian, and a little bit of French. The reason why I want to learn different languages is because I want to live in different parts of the world to learn how to make different financial investments in the markets around the world and I want to create a great network with different people around the world to have more options to do business. I enjoy learning Italian here at Drew.

Agnes Alves, Major: Sociology, Minors: Italian and Env. Studies & Sustainability

I have experience with Latin languages and besides the less romantic fact that I had already taken four years of Italian in high school and thought I’d have a head start in college, Italy just has an incomparable appeal. Italy was, in many ways, the starting point of something, of many things. Of empires and fashion, of art and spaghetti, of Dante and Enzo Ferrari. Its rich culture and history which it generously lent to the rest of the world baffles me. It’s one of many countrys that have had an enormous impact on American culture, adapting and evolving into its own culture, the Italian-American culture. It’s done much the same in other countrys and although they differ in some ways, they persist, the Italian culture persists in all its glory.

Caroline Kuras, Major: Business Studies, Minors: Photography and Italian

My name is Caroline Kuras and I am a Business Studies major with Italian and photography minors. I have taken Italian courses since my freshmen year in high school when it was first introduced, making my class the first Italian IV upper level students. After that wonderful class, I knew I had to continue increasing my love and understanding of the Italian language and culture. And I did just that at Drew. The upper level Italian courses were extremely interesting, challenging and very fun. I adored the Italian Cinema class and the Italian Business course gave me exposure to foreign business strategies which helped shape the idea for my thesis. The best part of my Italian minor was my study abroad trip in Orvieto, Italy. It was an unbelievable experience because there is no better way to learn and appreciate a culture than to live immersed in it for an extended period of time. Knowing another language is also very attractive for employers, making one a well rounded person.

Sebastiano Pigazzi, Double Major: History and Political Science, Minor: Italian

As an Italian in America, finding a course that could remind me of home was crucial. Not only this, but with a focus on History and Political Science, the Italian minor helped me understand cultural and political topics in a greater way. The wide range of upper-level Italian classes made for an enjoyable and dynamic experience that cannot be matched by other faculties. For someone with a good proficiency in the language, this aspect ensured that all courses were challenging but informative. My experience with the faculty has also been phenomenal. Italian professors were readily available when I needed help or had a question. Finally, in a time where everyone is taking Spanish or French, the Italian minor allowed me be more unique and different from the rest.

Maria Fruci, Major: Political Science, Special Major: Italian

Being a student at Drew has helped me to affirm the goals and dreams I have had since I was a little girl. However, more importantly it has helped me to learn and become more aware of myself as a person. Having parents who were both born and raised in Italy, naturally I grew up in a very “Italian” home with much of the culture that my family brought to this country with them. One would think that being in this environment from birth I would have realized the effect it has had on me. Creating an “Italian Studies” major has helped me to tie together all courses I have taken thus far in Italian language and culture as well as the classes I intend to take during the remainder of my time at Drew. My course load has consisted of classes focused on language, literature and culture, and when tied together, forms an in-depth study of Italy – its language, culture, traditions, and legacies. Each of these courses, regardless of what department offered them, allowed me to gain a better understanding of my family’s home country and its wonderful culture. Many courses have also allowed me to bring together my interests in various areas such as political science, music and history with my passion for the Italian language.

Amanda Birbal, Major: Business Studies, Minor: Italian

After taking years and years of Spanish classes, I was excited when my high school introduced Italian during my senior year. Learning the basics of the Italian language, I was invested in furthering my knowledge about the language and the culture. Having Professor Occhipinti for every single Italian class here at Drew University allowed me to express my growth in the language. It also gave me the opportunity to understand his teaching style. Being a business major and an Italian minor provides me the chance to have a career in International business. I plan to travel to Italy in the near future to extend my horizon on the language, the people, and the culture.

Desiree Jones, Major: English, Minor: Italian

Personally, I study Italian because it has led me to feel more of a connection with my Italian background and ancestors. However, as an English major, I find that studying Italian is fascinating in learning so much more about my own native language. In learning Italian grammar and focusing on the correct way to speak another language, am I able to put my own use of English under a metaphorical microscope to see the ways in which many Americans colloquially and literarily speak and write. I love recognizing cognates between Italian and English, too! In addition, knowing the real Italian language and culture is a unique quality that I find distinguishing. Basically said, learning Italian does not come easily to me, but putting myself up to the challenge has been incredibly rewarding.

Stephanie Soroka, Major: Economics, Minor: Italian

I have no other connection to the culture, but I am constantly astonished by the beauty and layered semantics of the language. This is only surpassed by the friendliness of the Italian people and the charm of the countryside. I love learning the ways people communicate with each other. My mother speaks seven languages, so from a very young age I was drawn to the study of foreign languages. I want to learn as many languages as I can get my hands on.

Jacqueline La Brutto, Major: Studio Art, Minors: Italian, Business Studies

When coming to Drew I knew that as a part of the General Education requirements I would need to take a language to complete my degree. After growing up in an Italian household for 20 years I decided that it was time that I learned the language that I heard my parents and grandparents speak as well as extended family members and friends speak often at holidays and family parties. I began Italian immediately my first semester on campus my freshman year at Drew. After completing three semesters of Italian on campus I packed my bags and headed to Orvieto, Italy for four weeks with Professor Occhipinti leading our group in June 2013. After spending time in Italy and practicing the language I decided to enroll in the course Italian for Business for the upcoming fall as well as continuing and completing my minor. I was particularly interested in Italian for Business because while in Italy I was very interested in their employment and current unemployment crisis. This minor and course fit perfectly with my other minor, Business Studies. I am able to learn the dynamics of business in America and also the fundamentals and key elements of business over in Italy.

Vittoria Carbini, Major: Psychology, Minor: Italian

I knew I wanted to study Italian when I came to Drew. I have spoken Italian all my life, growing up with a native born Italian father who spoke little English when he first arrived here. Honestly I thought taking the language would be too easy and overall boring and not challenging. However, after my first semester of re-learning the basics, I was taking upper level classes that challenged me to think about Italy’s culture (film, literature, fashion, history, etc.) that I knew I wanted Italian to be my minor. I also returned this summer from participating in an off-campus experience to Cilento with Professor Occhipinti and fellow Italian classmates. The adventure was one to not be forgotten. We were immersed in the culture, agriculture, food, and history that gives southern Italy its charm, awe, and mystery. I would definitely recommend the program to any future Italian students. The Italian program here offers students a chance to continue studying and learning and appreciating all that was taught of this beautiful language long after graduation.

Terry Kidner, Ph.D, auditor

I’m now taking my sixth semester of Italian as a “Community Auditor.”  I minored in French and German in college; as a retired academic, Italian has been my dessert, as it were–a luminous language that engages so many other disciplines: literature; philosophy; art history; music, film and theatre. E.M. Forster writes that “Italian in the mouths of Italians is a deep-voiced stream . …”  I’m not there yet (and may never manage the ‘deep-voiced’ part!), but I’ve loved every minute of trying.

Philip Herro, Major: Economics, Minor: Italian

After taking Italian during the first semester of my freshman year I realized that it was something I wanted to stick with. At that time they were working on making Italian a minor and when it finally was I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I have learned more than just a language. I have learned about a wonderful culture filled with wonderful people and a great history. Even if for nothing else knowing Italian is always a plus with the ladies.

Brianna Donofrio, Major: Neuroscience, Minor: Italian

As a first generation Italian, I always knew that I wanted to study Italian language and culture in college. As a science major, I enjoy the complement that an Italian Minor has added to my Drew experience. As I hope to pursue a career in the medical field, I believe that being bilingual will be a great asset! A few of the wide array of Italian courses offered that I have enjoyed include Italian Cinema and Italian for Business. Both of these have helped broaden my knowledge of the Italian culture, economy, society, and of course language. In addition, the exceptional Italian faculty provides unyielding support and creates a hands-on, stimulating, and challenging learning experience, setting the stage for a successful mastery of the language. I encourage all Drew students to explore the Italian Department and immerse oneself in the beauty of this melodic, romance language. Forza Italia!

Jessica Fortier, Double Major: Music and Economics, Minor: Italian

My name is Jessica Fortier and I am a Junior here at Drew University minoring in Italian. I have been studying Italian for the past five semesters and I absolutely love it. Taking Italian classes at Drew has allowed me to pursue one of my dreams of learning the language. A large part of my family live in Salerno, Italy and I have never been able to truly communicate with them. Since my Italian studies, I have been able to build a strong relationship with my family members abroad. From the introduction classes to Contemporary Italian Cinema or Italian For Business, I have learned so much about the language and overall nature of the culture. One of my most memorable experiences would be when I was selected to participate in the Tasting the Roots of Western Civilization program based in Cilento. Between the lectures and excursions throughout a three week period, I was able to embrace the culture, the people of the region, and the land that surrounded me. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and for that I will be forever grateful.

Michelle Gonnella, Major: Political Science, Minors: Business and Italian

Having grown up in an Italian family, with strong roots to Central Italy, my Italian values and traditions continue to strengthen each and every day.  Being a second generation Italian-American and having been exposed to the Italian language from birth, I only find it natural to continue to educate myself in an area I am greatly passionate about.  Having taken four years of Italian in high school and continuing to learn the language at Drew University, through today in my Junior year, my determination to succeed in the language is persistent.  My Nonna, who is a great influence in my life, was a school teacher in Italy before taking the long voyage like many across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States.  My Nonna taught Italian night school here in America, and has continued to instill her strong scholastic values onto me.  By having such strong ties to a country that has helped shape me into the person I am today, a minor in Italian was a perfect fit with my Political Science major and Business minor.

Gionna Marotta, Major: Business, Minor, Italian

My name is Gionna Marotta and I am a Business Major with a Minor in Italian. When I first came to Drew, I only took Italian courses because I studied the language in high school and since I already knew the language, I figured I could fulfill my language requirement with ease. But after fulfilling my requirement, I realized I only needed 3 more classes to complete the minor. And I can do so with the ability to study abroad and getting the chance to take classes that are not only for my Italian minor, but also count towards my business major.

Cynthia Montalvo, Major: Environmental Studies and Sustainability, Minor: Italian

When I first began studying Italian at Drew University, I was surprised by the ease with which I learned the language. The courses offered each semester not only provided me with the tools necessary for communication both written and oral, but with the confidence to express my thoughts and opinions in a foreign language as well. The professors in the Italian Department were crucial to my growth, as they encouraged my best work and demonstrated genuine interest in my progress. Given visible progress in my Italian language skills and overall interest in Italian culture, I declared a minor in Italian. As an Environmental Studies and Sustainability major at Drew, I was unsure of how well a minor in Italian would pair with my major at first. However, as I developed a stronger interest in environmental affairs on a global scale, it was no longer difficult to see how a minor in Italian might be useful for my future. In addition to advancing my professional goals, a minor in a foreign language has also facilitated my personal growth. In learning Italian, I have developed a stronger appreciation for, and have better prepared for, the increasingly diverse world in which I live. Without hesitation, I would recommend pursuing the minor or special major to students with an interest in Italian.