Viva l'Italia!

Ashton Fiucci '15

Ashton Fiucci ’15

Ashton Fiucci ’15 has always wanted to study Italian, so when she came to Dickinson—and had a chance not just to learn the language but also to study in Italy—it was a dream come true. An Italian studies major who also loves and majors in Spanish, Ashton has interned for an Italian-language scholarly journal and helped coordinate a conference on international education. She has also taken an Italian-language improvisational acting course, written a thesis about Italian cinema and served as president of the Italian Club. Oh, and she sings a cappella (in English) too.


Italian studies and Spanish.

Clubs and organizations:

Italian Club (president), Crescendevils (a cappella group) and the Norman M. Eberly Multilingual Writing Center (Italian tutor).


Alpha Lambda Delta, Dean’s List, Sigma Delta Pi, Distinguished Dickinsonian Award, Merrill Family Scholarship (four years), The Paul F. M. Angiolillo Prize (highest achievement in Italian Studies), Dean’s List and Raven’s Claw Scholarship.

Favorite book:

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. It offers a really interesting twist onThe Wizard of Oz and the root of good and evil.

On choosing a major:

I have a general love for learning languages and learning about different cultures. I’ve wanted to learn Italian since I was in middle school, but, unfortunately, my school district did not have it as an option. I ended up taking Spanish instead and fell in love with the language. Coming to Dickinson, it made sense for me to continue Spanish, and after taking my first Italian 101 class with [Lecturer in Italian] Luca Lanzilotta during my first semester here, I was sold on making Italian my [second] major.

Favorite place on campus:

I’ve made so many amazing memories in the Romance Language House (I lived there sophomore year).

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Those chicken sandwiches on ciabatta bread.

Favorite class:

As terrifying as it was, I’d have to say my favorite class was [Associate] Professor [of Italian] Nicoletta Marini-Maio’s Reading and Performing Italian Texts course. We started the semester off with some random Italian improvisation—and I had only been taking Italian for a year! At the end of the semester, we put on a full-length production in Italian with singing, dancing and acting—including an Italian version of Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time. This class forced me to become more confident, both personally and also with regard to my Italian-speaking skills. Most importantly, I became comfortable with making mistakes—one of the most important things you need to learn when taking up a new language. I had so much fun in that class, and we all became so close.

On studying abroad:

I first participated in the Italian summer-immersion program (Genoa, Italy). Integrating myself into the Italian lifestyle was both a challenge and a huge amount of fun. Then I spent a semester in Bologna, Italy. I got to take a class (in Italian) on Dante at the University of Bologna, and I became extremely close with my host family. As much as I loved traveling around Europe, it was always a surprise how happy I was to return to Bologna. It really felt like home.

As a kid, I wanted to be …

… a teacher (and a famous singer).

About my research project, and what it taught me:

I’ve earned honors for my thesis on the representation of immigration in Italian cinema. Recently there have been a lot of issues with immigration into Italy from Africa. I’ve always been interested in how film reflects societal issues, and after taking two classes on Italian cinema, I wanted to know more. Through this experience, I improved my Italian and writing skills, and I’ve become knowledgeable about Italian laws on immigration, past and present. I also found a subject I am passionate about—immigration.

If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …

One Direction (this is where my inner teenager comes out).

About my internship in international education:

I’ve been interning for the Forum on Education Abroad since my second semester of my junior year, and I’ll be continuing with it through the summer. I’ve loved every minute of it. I’m really interested in international education, so I was grateful to be able to work at [the forum's] annual conference in New Orleans this year. Everyone in the field is incredibly friendly and passionate. It taught me to deal with problems on the spot and to work with the resources that I have.

About my internship as an editorial assistant for a foreign-language journal:

This is my second year as a Dana Research Assistant for Professor Marini-Maio’s online Italian journal, gender/sexuality/Italy. It’s such a great opportunity to be involved in an academic journal—I’ve communicated with some of the top scholars in the Italian-studies field and learned so much by simply reading article submissions.

Learn more

Published May 12, 2015