Senior Receives National Italian American Foundation on Campus Fellowship

by Christine NappiStaff Writer

The Italian culture has always played a prominent role in senior, Mary Pizzimenti’s life. From being raised in an Italian household to learning to speak the language at a young age, the Italian culture is who she is. Now, Pizzimenti has the opportunity to spread and further encourage Italian culture at Manhattan College for being the recipient of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) on Campus Fellowship.

Pizzimenti was granted this fellowship in October, and had the chance to attend NIAF’s 44th annual gala on Nov. 2 to commemorate her achievement. The NIAF on Campus Fellowship awards Italian-American college students the opportunity to fund initiatives at their schools that will enhance Italian heritage on campus. Applicants of the fellowship must identify as Italian-American and be active in Italian programs at their respective campuses. For being one of the most competitive years the program has seen, Pizzimenti is one of 15 college students nationwide to receive this fellowship.

“NIAF offered me a certain amount of money to encourage more Italian programs going on at school and more events for the Italian club, and to have more money being allocated so that people could come to Italian events happening on campus,” Pizzimenti said.

With the fellowship, Pizzimenit hopes to enhance the Italian culture represented at MC and plans to garner student interest in Italian based events. Although she finds the culture to be underrepresented on campus, this fellowship gives her the opportunity to change that.

Starting this spring semester, Pizzimenti plans to use her fellowship to encourage events based around Italian fashion and art. She finds fashion to be an interesting topic to integrate with Italian culture because many fashion idols are from Milan. In addition, she finds that the school’s proximity to The Metropolitan Museum of Art is full of opportunities to explore Italian art and opera performances.

“I think students would be more interested in events going on if they saw these events going on,” Pizzimenti said. “If we can encourage more events happening at school, which is what I’m really hoping for, and with the proper marketing and advertising I think a lot of people will show up”

In addition to events, Pizzimenti also hopes the Italian language program will expand in the hopes of augmenting the culture’s representation at MC.

“I don’t feel that it’s represented very much on campus and in part is the lack of an Italian major,” Pizzimenti said. “I don’t know how many students would apply, but I feel like we’d get more than we think. There’s only a couple kids in the Italian minor and I think that’s really unfortunate.”

Pizzimenti is passionate about increasing Italian culture on campus due to her personal background and relationship with Italian. She describes the culture to be a part of who she is.

“My father is from Calabria in Italy and when he came here to America, he never wanted to forget that Italian side to him,” Pizzimenti said. “My brother and I kept the Italian culture going. We learned about the culture, just really dove into it and it’s my life I can’t imagine anything different and I love it.”

With Italian consistently playing a role in her life, Pizzimenti will be able to spread her love of the culture to students at MC with her fellowship. Although Italian has always been a part of her life, the fellowship award enabled her to learn more about her culture. She encourages more students to apply in the hopes of continuing the enhancement of Italian culture on campus.

“I encourage more people to apply,” Pizzimenti said. “I got to go to this gala and conference and I really learned about my roots and more about Italy in general, it was really interesting and fun.”