Life is Beautiful When Academic Curiosity Becomes Professional Reality

Kristina Varade

Kristina Varade '02, Associate Professor, Modern Languages

Major: Italian and English

Advanced Degrees: M.A., New York University, Humanities and Social Thought; M. Phil., Comparative Literature; Ph.D., Comparative Literature with Italian Specialization

Employer: Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York

I entered Mount Holyoke as an aspiring concert violist and came out as an Italian scholar; well, as a scholar of British and Italian Studies, to be more precise. This trajectory led to my job, regularly informs my scholarship, and will continually influence my approach to the instruction of Italian language and culture to my students.

Mount Holyoke Professor Emeritus Angelo Mazzocco inspired me to be a "Donna Nobile," aiming to follow in the footsteps of the cultivated, clever, and sassy women that advanced their positions in life through refined elocution and self-initiative in Boccaccio's 'Decameron' and beyond.

With a double major in Italian and English, my career derived from my two greatest academic passions: the study of Italian and Irish language and literature. I am currently involved with a book project on the fascinating Anglo-Irishman and writer Charles Lever who lived in Italy during the period of the Risorgimento.

"La vita e' proprio bella"; that is, my academic life is really beautiful. I have the honor of being the first person to introduce a love of Italian language to my eager community college students each semester, as well as the first to see them experience the joys and frustrations of speaking and 'becoming' Italian in Italy every summer though BMCC's study abroad program. Moreover, I am able to pursue my passion for comparative Irish and Italian literature in my professional research and academic inquiry.

And as for that musical career? It didn't go completely to waste. After having been inspired by Lorenzo Jovanotti Cherubini's "Bella" in class at Mount Holyoke during my first semester, not a week goes by that my students aren't exposed to an Italian singer or song. And always the most memorable moment? Listening to them sing along with Domenico Modugno. They tackle "Volare" with gusto, laughing and enjoying the challenges which the lyrics and vocal ranges present to them. 'Per fortuna,' some things, such as the joys of singing, never grow old!