Thanks to the dedication of highly qualified professors and the individual attention paid to students, the MAT in Italian program at Drew successfully prepares teachers for employment in either middle schools or high schools. Through careful preparation and rigorous coursework of the MAT program, our students have received teaching positions following graduation, with multiple interviews from prestigious schools. Frank Sedita, who received his MAT in Italian, was Drew’s first MAT candidate to win the NJ Distinguished Student Teacher of the Year award in 2011, and Adriana Durso was a finalist for the same award in 2015. In 2016 Nicole Davis was awarded the Dean’s Master of Arts in Teaching Prize.

Any questions regarding requirements, academics, the OPI exam or fieldwork experience should be directed to Prof. Occhipinti (eocchipi@drew.edu).

What Our Students Say:

Frank Sedita: When I first arrived at Drew University, I was overwhelmed by the vast menu of courses that I could choose from. However, having previously studied Italian in high school and having personal connections with the culture, I did not hesitate when including Italian on my schedule. Looking back at this decision, I can honestly say that this was one of the best academic choices that I ever made. Choosing to study Italian at Drew provided me with the unique opportunity to study abroad on three occasions in Venice, as well as to design and pursue my own special major in Italian language and culture; all while allowing me to intimately explore and reflect upon a vital part of my heritage as an Italian-American. Drew’s study abroad option in Venice, coupled with the Italian department’s extremely knowledgeable and helpful faculty and array of intriguing courses, ranging in everything from cinema to literature, made my academic growth and deeper appreciation for the Italian language and culture feasible. I also found that studying Italian complimented my simultaneous study of sociology; an interdisciplinary experience that culminated in my composition of an honors thesis during my senior year. These rich experiences have today equipped me with a unique perspective from which to explore, and now teach, a foreign language and culture in a society defined by unprecedented globalization. Immediately following my time as an undergraduate at Drew, I was able to remain a student within the Italian department, as I pursued a Masters in Teaching Italian. This highly personalized experience not only facilitated my further knowledge of the language and culture, but also provided me with vital Twenty-first century pedagogical skills. As a teacher of Italian at the secondary level, I find myself constantly reflecting upon and incorporating these experiences on a daily basis. Overall, I truly believe that studying Italian at Drew made me both a stronger student, as well as person; something I now wish to instill within my own students.

Toni Anne Corsi: I have always had a passion for learning about the Italian language and culture, and at Drew I was able to fully indulge my love of it.  Not only did I minor in Italian, but my participation in Drew’s Language and Culture in Venice, Italy Program for two summers were unforgettable experiences that allowed me to pursue my aspirations of becoming fluent in Italian and afforded me the opportunity to meet my relatives in Italy for the first time. I also served on the executive board of the Cultural Italian American Organization (CIAO) at Drew, during which I coordinated activities to spread awareness of Italian culture. However, it was the guidance and support from the professors in the Italian Department at Drew that shaped my career. These educators were instrumental in my growing interest of learning Italian and desire to explore deeper into the culture, and they allowed me to understand it on a deep level.  They made the learning environment unique and utilized unconventional teaching methods that inspired me to both learn and teach. I therefore pursued and earned an M.A.T. in Italian at Drew and now teach middle school Italian. I also coach a group of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students who compete annually at the Italian Language & Culture Competition at Montclair State University. I use Italian every day on both a professional and personal level. I would encourage all students with an interest in Italian to pursue the minor or special major at Drew!

Adriana Durso: Growing up, I knew my family was a little bit different. I had relatives who didn’t speak English, a mother with an accent, and was the only person I knew who had to attend huge family parties every Sunday. But I loved that my mom was bilingual and that she cooked the best pasta in town and I knew that when I got older, I wanted to learn everything about this amazing culture that I was born into. I began taking Italian in high school and was elated to see that I could continue Italian at Drew University. During my sophomore year, I decided to create a special major in Italian Studies which afforded me the opportunity to not only study Italian but learn about the history and politics of the country and its neighboring European nations. While taking classes for my major, I encountered amazing Italian professors who furthered my communicative skills. And during my junior year, I embarked on what would become one of the most memorable and amazing times of my life — a semester abroad in Rome. During that time, I not only got to explore the eternal city but I was able to live as a true Roman and begin to understand my heritage even more. A couple years after graduating from Drew, I returned to receive my Master’s in Teaching for Italian. I entered the one-year program and realized that my Italian education was far from over. Working every week with Professor Occhipinti, I saw my conversational skills and grasp of the language expand with each day. He took my language skills to a level that I didn’t know was possible. And thanks to his help and guidance throughout that year, I graduated with a job as a high school Italian Teacher. Currently in my first year, I am teaching Italian 1 and 2 and I frequently look back at my educational experiences at Drew and feel very grateful. For without those experiences, I would not be in the place that I am today — a happy and successful Italian teacher!

Nicole Davis: As an Italian-American I grew up hearing stories of my mom’s grandparents and aunts’ voyage to America, of all the foods and traditions they brought with them, and of all the amazing memories of Italy that they passed down to family through the years. I always dreamed of paying homage to them by learning to speak the language and spreading the Italian culture to anyone who would listen. I began taking Italian courses in high school, and when I enrolled at Bucknell University for my undergraduate degree it was a no-brainer that I would continue taking classes to study the Italian language and culture. I initially intended to study psychology, but I found college Italian courses even more intriguing, because learning to understand and communicate in another language felt like cracking a code and being let in on a secret. I loved it so much that I travelled to Italy, and was able to live with a family who taught me even more about the culture that I already knew I loved. I graduated Bucknell with a double major in psychology and Italian, but I eventually decided that I could not give up speaking Italian, and that I wanted to find a way to make a career out of spreading the language and culture with others. For me, teaching seemed to be the obvious answer. I enrolled in the one-year MAT program at Drew University in order to pursue that goal, and found the most engaging part of the program to be the time that I spent developing my language skills with Professor Occhipinti. The MAT program at Drew prepared me for success and I was able to graduate the program having already accepted a full-time, tenure-track job. I am now able to use the skills that I gained every day as I teach high school students in levels 1, 2, and 2 honors classes. I am grateful that the classes I took led me to this point in my life, and I would not have made it here if it weren’t for the Italian program at Drew!