Minor in Italian Studies

Lauren Tomanelli, 2011

Lauren  Tomanelli

On a trip to Italy for genealogical research, I got to experience the truly indescribable feeling of being in the Roman Forum, the ancient city’s political and cultural center.  Walking ancient streets, interacting with ancient art, and standing inside intact 2,000 year old buildings made me realize my passion for ancient Italy’s history, art, and archaeology.  
The next semester I changed my major and began taking as many classics and archaeology courses as possible.  Mason’s courses helped me investigate Roman art, legal systems, religion, and literature.  The anthropology and archaeology courses I took at Mason were some of my most valuable learning experiences. I still regularly use the material today in my graduate courses at Columbia University.
After graduating from George Mason, I received an MA in Museum Studies from George Washington University.  While studying museum exhibition theory, I got some great hands-on internship experience performing research for local museums.  During my summer at GW, I got to participate in the excavation of an Etruscan sanctuary site.  The Italian training I gained at Mason enhanced this trip, and even allowed me to lead an unofficial tour of the site for some Italian locals, helping them rediscover their own town’s ancient history.
I am now completing a second MA in Classics at Columbia University.  This summer I will travel to Italy again, this time to study ancient Roman pottery at The American Academy in Rome.  Because of the small class sizes and conversation-based training I received at Mason, I will be able to make valuable professional connections and become more immersed in Italy’s fantastic culture during free time.
Had it not been for my Italian experience at Mason, I would never have gone to Italy to research my family’s past, and I would not have realized my passion for archaeology which would drive my future.  Although my recent graduate work deals with the art and languages of ancient Italy, I would not have gotten here without the ability to speak the modern Italian language.  Studying Italian involves more than just a language: it is the chance to learn about the culture, history, food, film, art, and worldview of a hugely influential and truly awesome country.  Italian classes are a great way to expand current interests, and to discover new passions.