Matt Paganussi ’14 Senior Profile: Italian Studies

Paganussi.MBefore I arrived on campus at William and Mary, I knew I wanted to study the Italian language. My interest in pursuing the study of the Italian language stemmed from a personal desire to be able to speak and comprehend the language of my ancestors. Given that practically no one in my family has spoken the language in several decades, I wanted to study Italian so that one day, my children will be able to understand and appreciate their genetic and cultural heritage. In addition to studying the language, I have thoroughly enjoyed learning more about multiple subjects of Italian history. From the Risorgimento, fascism, and classical authors such as Dante and Machiavelli, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to explore these subject areas and assess their lasting cultural and global impact on the modern era.

My Italian language studies also enabled me to spend a semester abroad in Florence. I do not think there was ever a day where my daily walk by the Duomo or through the Oltrarno ever provoked such vivid images of Italian life during the intellectual and artistic explosion of the Renaissance. Having the opportunity to explore the Tuscan region where most of my ancestors come from also provided immense personal satisfaction and gratitude for those that came before me. If it were not for the desire to pursue a life of opportunity and promise in the United States, I might not be here. Such an appreciation for my heritage and the Italian language inspired a desire to serve as a TA for the department during my senior year. Having the ability to directly engage students and assist with their development and understanding of the Italian language was immensely gratifying and an experience I will never forget.

Next year, I will be pursuing a Master’s degree in Commerce from the University of Virginia where I hope to combine my liberal arts background with a business foundation that may allow me to use my language skills in an international business context. Regardless of where I wind up in the future, my experience in the Italian Studies department has provided immense personal satisfaction and spurned a desire to pass on the skills I have developed to future generations of my family.

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