An article by Elle Berti (English & Italian Studies student)
Last May, the Italian program at Chapman University marked an important point in its history by graduating the first two Italian Studies majors at this institution. Since then, the number of students in the program has continued to grow. But, the Italian major isn’t like the typical major in foreign languages –this one’s self-designed. The program is also different from other universities’ because at Chapman students select their own classes for the major.
Before this year, only French and Spanish majors were offered, and just a minor option was available for Italian students.
“I think it comes down to the numbers. Most students take French or Spanish in High School, so they probably figure that to be the easiest route to completing their language requirements at Chapman,” said Marco Saglimbeni, a recent graduate in Italian Studies and Biological Sciences.
Although there are fewer students in the Italian program, there are many classes, Study Abroad opportunities, and educational and social events put on by the Italian Program. The Italian minor requires 21 credits and a self-designed major needs a minimum of 27. Many students surpass the requirement for the minor, but, until fall of 2016, no one had attempted to create an Italian self-designed major.
Melissa Marino was the first. After studying abroad and taking Italian classes as an undergraduate student, Marino realized in her junior year that she was only six credits shy of the requirement for the major. With the help of Dr. Pacchioni, the Musco Chair in Italian Studies, she submitted her plan to the University, and it was approved.
“I feel that being the first to design an Italian major laid a framework and gave confidence to those who might be considering declaring an Italian major because it showed them that it very well can –and has– been done,” Marino said.
After Marino declared the major, her peer and friend Marco Saglimbeni did the same. The two graduated in May of 2017 as the first students to receive degrees in Italian Studies.
“Hopefully other students will see what Melissa and I did and realize that the self-designed major is both worth it and a great experience,” added Saglimbeni.
Since fall of 2016, three more students have declared the self-designed major, and over 40 plan to minor.
While there has been talk of creating a traditional major in Italian Studies, like that of French and Spanish, Dr. Pacchioni thinks the self-designed approach remains very effective. Because the degree is self-designed, all students must have another major first. Therefore, the Italian major enhances a student’s resume and provides more opportunities within their chosen career.
“I’d love to find an equilibrium between my two majors and work in advertising/marketing for an Italian company,” said Briana Salatino, a senior double majoring in Public Relations and Advertising and Italian Studies.
For more information about the Italian Studies program at Chapman and the self-designed major, visit the program’s webpage.