by MADALYN JOHNSON, Asst. A&E Editor
On Wednesday, March 27 in Kelly 5A, students were given the opportunity to meet with working professionals in a variety of fields including law, business, education, health, government that were Italian natives and of Italian descent. At the event, “Networking your Future”, guests emphasized to students the advantage of learning another language, such as Italian, and how beneficial it would be in their careers.
John Calvelli, who is the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), widely known as being associated with the Bronx Zoo, spoke in the beginning about the workers attending the event that consisted of educators, lawyers, medical practitioners and non-profit sectors. He especially praised and notified students about one special guest, Francesco Genuardi, who came to New York in 2016 to become the Consul General of Italy.
“We are blessed here in New York to have a dynamic Consul General as in the world of diplomacy. The Consul General represents the Republic of Italy here in New York, he is the highest-ranking official representing the Republic of Italy here.”
“He has been a true friend and this session is to talk about the importance of Italian networking and the Italian-American community,” he said.”
Genuardi discussed how happy he was he could make it to the event and explained his role in building relations between the country of Italy and the state of New York.
“I really value the moments of being in the five boroughs, meeting the people, and trying to explain what we do at the consul, what we do to strengthen more and more the bonds between Italy and New York City and we try to do that as much as possible,” he said.
Genuardi as well recognized the partners in attendance that night that were there to speak and guide students on Italian networking.
“We are very lucky because we have great friends and great partners in New York such as John Calvelli,” he said.
Students in attendance, which included Fordham students from the Lincoln Center Campus, were able to partake hear from professionals after the guest speakers, as they circuited around the room table to table, about why picking up a second language would strengthen their resume and the work they do in the future.
Freshman Mary Stahl, an environmental studies major, talked about what she gained from the event held at MC and how she thinks it will help her find jobs in her profession.
“I thought the event was a very valuable experience to see how my years of studying Italian will help me with job searching,” Stahl said. “The networking aspect was very open, friendly and casual. I really appreciate the Italian department putting such a beneficial event together for all students to be able to begin networking in a very welcoming environment.”
Ariella Omar, a senior double majoring in political science and international studies, also thought the experience was worthwhile considering it taught students who are new to the working world about networking and how connections are made.
“I thought it was a great event that showed young individuals such as ourselves how important both being active in our communities and networking is,” Omar said. “It was crazy to see people of all ages and professions come together to talk to us all because they had the common thread of either being Italian or spoke Italian and all managed to be there on that night for us to give us advice we can use in our future.”
With the help of the Italian department at Manhattan College, the event was able to take place and welcome many Italian-American professionals, working in a variety of significant fields, to come and advise students that attend New York universities. Luisanna Sardu, who was one of the leading coordinators and is a professor who teaches Spanish and Italian courses at MC, is very passionate about picking up on the skill of learning a second language.
Born in Lima, Peru, Sardu grew up in Sardinia and says her constant traveling led her to develop a love for teaching.
“I traveled my entire life, and teaching Italian paid for my rent, my food, but also allowed me to develop friendships in many parts of the world. Most importantly, it laid a strong foundation for my love of teaching,” she said.
Living up to that desire to teach others, Sardu has taught at numerous universities, including at Florida Atlantic University as a graduate student and at Queens College, Hunter College and Bronx Community College when a Ph.D. candidate. She found Manhattan College through a colleague at the CUNY Graduate Center who left his Italian teaching position at MC to go to Europe.
Sardu found great success in the networking event, for many students at MC show interest in Italian and American organizations in New York.
“Students from Manhattan College and Fordham University gathered to find out where their knowledge of Italian can take them after graduation. This event opened doors for students who have studied Italian, pairing it with other major fields of studies such as law, medicine, engineering, and business,” Sardu said.
“I think students at the event realized that learning a language can have a lifelong effect on who they are as people and that today society demands for us to be multilingual, multicultural and to embrace global awareness.”
Sardu also touched on the impact the event had on women, who may feel discouraged joining a profession that is generally male-dominated, by naming the many female professionals who were present that night.
“We invited many inspiring women to this event with the purpose of encouraging young women at Manhattan College. For example, Dr. Maria A. Branca served on the Board of Trustees of New York State Podiatric Association. In 2021, she will serve as president of the NYSPMA, the third woman to hold the position. Dr. Rachel Filastro is an active member of the White Plains Bar Association, the Columbia Lawyers Association and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. Dr. Donna La Spina is a director on the Multinational Corporate Coverage team at BNP Paribas Global Banking Americas in New York”. Sardu summarized how the women’s’ achievements were inspirational based on what it probably took to get them to where they are today. “Overall all, strong and enthusiastic women who, I am sure, had their difficulties, but nevertheless persisted and succeeded in fields traditionally male-dominated.”