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Student Testimonials

Videos and written testimonials from students about their experience taking our language and culture courses, or pursuing one of our majors or minors.


Student Victoria Forbrich and Dr. Vasquez discuss Applied Linguistics! (video)

USF Student Victoria Forbrich is a Biomedical Sciences major with a minor in Linguistics and German. Dr. Vasquez is a Professor of Applied Linguistics and the current section head of Applied Linguistics at USF (as of 4/12/2022).

Yaqian Jiang (2022)

Jiang grad pic

Dr. Camilla Vasquez and Yaqian Jiang at her evening graduation ceremony in May 2022 for her Ph.D. degree

"The Ph.D. in LALS program is very successful at fostering a collaborative and mentoring relationship between advisors and students. Because of this student-centered advising approach, I had many opportunities to work with faculty members on research projects, during which I received a tremendous amount of support and further improved my research and writing skills. I also want to give a huge shout out to my major professor, Dr. Camilla Vásquez, for her continuous guidance, support, and encouragement.  

I am currently working as an adjunct professor in the Department of English at Middle Tennessee University. "

Aneesa Ali

"My Linguistics minor at USF has had such a lasting impact on my personal life and college/future career that it is almost impossible for me to imagine the person I would be today if I had not enrolled in Intro to Linguistics my first semester at USF. I knew without a shadow of a doubt from that course that I had found my calling. If you enjoy learning languages and crave a deeper understanding of how language functions structurally and socially, then I highly recommend enriching your USF experience with Linguistics coursework."

Crystal Bonano

"I graduated from USF in 2016 as an English major with a double minor in Linguistics and German Studies. When I enrolled in my first linguistics course, Teaching English Overseas, I had no idea that the course would offer me an introduction to one of the many career options of a linguist and also nurture my abilities as a scholar.

Pursuing linguistics has opened opportunities I never thought possible: participating in undergraduate research, studying abroad, and achieving departmental honors. Now preparing to start my MA at the University of Illinois, I am excited to see where my passion for linguistics will lead me! I look forward to learning all that I can as I build upon the foundation USF provided for me."

Ennis Cruz Gonzalez

"During my first semester at USF, I took LIN 3010 as a prerequisite and discovered that linguistics was exactly what I was looking for. Each class has been taught by passionate and incredibly knowledgeable professors; their dedication pushed me to exceed past what I thought was possible. Choosing Linguistics as a minor opened so many doors for me. I have had the opportunity to be involved in undergraduate research, study abroad in South Korea, and leadership roles in clubs. Thanks to Linguistics, I have been challenged to push past what I know, to continue learning, and to grow intellectually and as a person."

Areins Pelayo

"I majored in philosophy and minored in linguistics. I decided to engage in hands-on research through the linguistics department, which taught me some practical values such as the importance of teamwork, organization, and time-management. It also taught me what linguists in fieldwork actually do and what assumptions they must make in analyzing data, how to collect that data, and how to present the findings in a way experts and non-experts can understand.

I highly recommended minoring or majoring in linguistics for all kinds of students. Linguistics is so wide in scope and interdisciplinary. Ultimately, as a user of language, there’s going to be something someone finds absolutely fascinating."

Daniel Sarmiento

"Studying Linguistics has been such a rewarding experience for me. I started out as someone very interested in languages simply because I thought they were fascinating and fun to learn. Little did I know that linguistics is so much more than that. Not only do you learn the mechanics of language, how it functions, the intricacies of meaning, but most importantly you gain an insightful connection to the rest of the world that not many people have. When you open your mind with linguistics you're learning how language works, which allows you to understand people better and develop empathy. Linguistics at USF hasn't just allowed me to pursue a passion but to also grow personally and socially."


Mena Bassous on Studying Arabic! (Spring 2022) (video)

Ann Pritchard on Studying Arabic! (Spring 2022) (video)


Rachael MacLaughlin - Class of 2014

"I studied at USF from 2010 to 2014, and during my studies I decided to study the German language. Little did I know that the German language would captivate me so much and that the courses offered at the university along with the staff would incur in me a love not only of the language, but also the culture.

I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities offered by the German language department because by taking part in the courses I gained a profound knowledge of the language and culture, which I am able to use today as I pursue a dual master’s degree in European studies, at the University of Flensburg and the University of Southern Denmark.

I was inspired to pursue my higher education in Germany, through the various classes that I took as part of my German minor, in particular however the experiences that I attained while participating in the study abroad conducted in Stuttgart during the summer of 2013. I still remember the initial culture shock that I felt when I first arrived in Germany, but thankfully I had professor Margit Grieb to show me a side of Germany I could not have understood through a textbook or even a course, and together with my classmates I had an experience of a lifetime. That is why when I arrived to Flensburg in October 2015, I felt at ease knowing that I knew how things functioned in Germany and that I could communicate effectively, which is a huge relief when you move to a different country away from your family and friends for a long period of time."

Mark McCarthy - PhD. student

"My experience in the German program has helped me well beyond just learning another language. The change in perspective and insight that a foreign language provides is invaluable in an increasingly diverse cultural landscape. Not to mention that this program offers a collegial atmosphere that really made me feel like part of a family."

Margaaux Chavez - M.A. student

"I studied German at USF from 2003-2007 as part of a small, collegial cohort of students and faculty. I feel that as a German student, I received the equivalent of a classical education. Language studies are not just grammar and vocabulary, but include cultural studies. Language students must learn about the history, art, music, science, and politics of their region of focus. As German students, we received a well-rounded education and were encouraged by the staff to develop research and study skills that we could use in future professional and scholarly pursuits.

After graduating, I received a Fulbright Fellowship which gave me the opportunity to live and work in Berlin. Directly motivated by my experiences in Berlin, I decided to begin graduate studies in Anthropology and Public Health. Even after graduating, the department faculty kept in touch and offered support by helping me finance my graduate studies with a graduate assistantship as a beginning German instructor. I am still in contact with many of my former German classmates and friends I met studying abroad as an undergraduate and post-graduate. These life-long friendships and skill sets are just two of many reasons to study German!

I currently work as an education policy researcher and German instructor while getting my M.A. degree."

Matthew Minor - Class of 2008

"The German program at USF played such a vital role in the development of who I am today. Through the encouragement of the professors, I studied abroad at the University of Osnabrück my Junior year and had one of the most incredible experiences of my life! Upon returning from Germany, I spent the next 2 years fine tuning my speaking, reading and writing in German. My professors in the German program at USF were some of the most influential people in my life, with a genuine passion for what they teach and an authentic concern for the success of their students.

After graduation, I moved to Berlin, Germany and completed my Master’s degree, as well as fulfilled the responsibilities of a full time job at a research institute – in German! During my almost 3 years in Berlin, I was constantly complemented not only on my German speaking abilities, but also my knowledge of German culture. I only had the German program at USF to thank!

I am currently back in the US and work in a job where I use my German almost every single day. In fact, one of the reasons I was hired at my organization was because I would easily be able to communicate with our German offices and colleagues working on projects in Germany.

I owe much of who I am today to the quality of the curriculum in the German program at USF, as well as the inspiration that I received from my former professors. I would encourage anyone remotely interested in German or Germany to explore the possibilities within this program. I promise you won’t regret it!"

Robin O'Dell - Class of 2007

"My name is Robin O’Dell. I graduated in 2007 and now live in St. Petersburg, Florida. I loved studying German at USF and would recommend it to other USF students because of the knowledgeable, attentive teachers and the one-on-one attention you receive as a student. The subject matter is interesting, the language is fun to learn, and the teachers are excellent.

I was fortunate enough to take part in the study abroad program in Osnabrück, Germany, during the summer of 2007 and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. We were immersed in the local culture of Osnabrück (a beautiful city) and also were able to travel to Berlin and Hamburg. It was unforgettable.

After graduating, I started my own business, The Proofreading Boutique, as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader. My knowledge of German comes in very handy when I’m editing academic works and philosophy projects, and my German comprehension has helped me obtain projects I otherwise would not have. I feel it gives me a definite edge in my field. Overall, I would recommend the German program at USF to any student. And if you find yourself in the position to take part in the study abroad program, go for it. You will make memories that will last a lifetime and learn a lot along the way."

Eric Adrien - Class of 2006

"Studying German at USF was one of the most formative experiences during my university studies. The coursework not only exposed me to the language, but also to the rich history, literature and films of German speaking peoples. It supplemented my major in International Studies by allowing me to attain a greater understanding of the politics and culture of Western Europe. With the full support of the faculty I applied for and received a Fulbright Scholarship to work as a teacher in Germany.

After completing my year as a Fulbrighter, I moved to Brussels and began working as a political monitor covering the European Parliament. Working in a multilingual atmosphere, my knowledge of German has proved invaluable as German is fast becoming the second language of choice for many in the European Union.

I strongly recommend the German program at USF for anyone interested in purely language studies as well as for those wanting to supplement their majors with specialized training. I will always be indebted to Dr. Margit Grieb for her guidance and support. Vielen Dank für alles!"

Linann McDonald - Class of 2006

"Studying German at USF was a really enjoyable experience for me. Although the German program was small at the time, there was a wide variety of classes offered that were not only interesting, but also very informative. A huge advantage was that it was always possible to get personal attention from the professors, who were knowledgeable and consistently helpful and concerned with the success of the students. As I spoke virtually no German before I started studying at USF, I decided to study a year abroad in Osnabrueck, Germany, and not only vastly improved my German, but also gained an in-depth look into the realities of a country I could only ever read about before.

I graduated from USF in December 2006 and have since been able to put both my German and International Studies degrees to good use. After completing the German program I was able to move to Germany and had the necessary skills to pursue my professional interests. In Oldenburg, Germany, I taught Business English and did a 10-month internship working with asylum seekers.

Afterwards I decided to continue my education in Berlin and was accepted into a joint Master’s program at the Freie University, Humboldt University and University of Potsdam. Since I now study International Relations, it was advantageous for me to be able to do my degree in a foreign country and because I had already studied abroad in Germany, I was better prepared to take on a degree program in Berlin.

I am currently writing my Master’s thesis and once I am done, I am comforted in the fact that in this tough global economic environment, I will be able to apply for work in any job market in which English and/or German is spoken."

Tyrone Afrasan Adamawan Adams - Class of 2006

"I studied German at USF 2004-2006. Studying German, in particular with Prof. Margit Grieb, is loads of excitement. Not only do you learn a language, you study German culture, history and politics - much of it through studying German films. Prof. Margit Grieb makes class fun, interesting and educational. And she will support you wherever she can. You will most certainly enjoy your experience and get a rigorous liberal arts education at the same time. If you can manage to combine this with a stay in Germany to immerse yourself in language and culture learning, all the better. Learning about other cultures, especially if immersed in other cultures for more than a long vacation, is one of the most important experiences one can have in life. I highly recommend the USF German program.

I since worked as a German teacher in Germany and as an ESOL and math teacher in Florida. I also used my skills to work as a translator. My journey has now brought me to study law. After receiving offers from Howard, UC Irvine, George Washington, I ultimately decided to study at Penn State Law as they offered the best scholarship package. Maybe I will even combine this with a semester in Germany to study German Law..."


FRW 4930: The Holocaust: Through a French Lense (Guest Speaker: Holocaust Survivor) (Spring 2023)

  • "It was a very honorable experience to be able to listen to a Survivor. Not only was it astonishing to be able to talk to someone from the very part of history we are studying in class but it was amazing to be able to learn from such a strong and passionate individual. From this experience, I will carry on the importance of learning from the past to create a better future. Without learning from those who come from different backgrounds than ourselves, we cannot share love with those around us. That is something Mr. Levi taught us all that will stick with me from now on."

    - Sofia Martinez
  • "I feel extremely grateful that I was able to share the same space (though virtual) with a Holocaust survivor. The recounting of the survivor’s experience was extremely educational and important to hear. In addition to his story, we were given profound insight into the importance of something as simple as eliminating hate from our vocabulary. In modern times we are not immune to prejudice, discrimination, and hate; hence the obligation we have to move towards connection and love in defiance of hate, something the survivor highlighted.

    With that being said, the prevalence and pervasiveness of genocide and hate crimes require us to continually share these important stories. We should always offer space and a voice to those suffering and who have suffered not only to learn but for them and their families to heal. I truly hope the University continues to amplify these voices by allowing students the opportunity to learn about the Holocaust and other important current and historical events. There are no words for my appreciation to the survivor for sharing time with us, and for Dr. Savona for planning it."

    - Maria Medina-Nigaglioni

  • "Today was a very special day for our FRW-5934 Holocaust – Through a French Lens course. We had the wonderful opportunity to meet with a Holocaust survivor: Mr. Roland Levi from the St. Peterburg’s area.

    At the young age of 5 years old, his whole world changed when the Nazis entered his classroom and ordered any Jewish children to be taken away. Today, Mr. Levi recounted his experiences during and after World War II and the suffering he and his family had to endure. He is very passionate about educating everyone he can about the atrocities that occurred in his youth and about the life of many Jewish families throughout the war.

    One important comment he wanted to leave with us was to never ever use the word HATE as it is too negative, nefarious, and hurtful. Instead, we should promote and more often use the word LOVE to help create a world of peace, friendship, and prosperity. I am very grateful for the opportunity I had today to listen to Mr. Levi. His wisdom, courage, and dedication were all invaluable, and I encourage us all to follow his advice."

    - Martin Lalande


Lindsey Mackinnon on Studying Italian! (Spring 2022) (video)

Izabella Barcatta on Studying Italian! (Fall 2021) (video)

Payton Lietz on Studying Italian! (Fall 2021) (video)

Bobby Creighton on Studying Italian! (Fall 2021) (video)

Abigail Engle on Studying Italian! (Spring 2021) (video)

USF Italian student, Troy Della Pietra, in a video of the Italian Embassy Italy in US! (2020) (video)

Here is one of our student of Italian Studies in the Italian Program at the University of South Florida, Troy Della Pietra, chosen to open a video of the Italian Embassy Italy in US!


Why Study Italian! with TAs: Francesca & Viviana (Spring 2022) (video)

Meet the two of our Italian TAs: Francesca & Viviana! They created this video discussing some of the amazing lures of Italian culture, history, and intrigue that lead students to study the language extensively at USF!

Jesus Anthony Báez - Class of 2012

Jesus Baez (Student)

"For me, majoring in Italian came naturally; my mother is Italian from the city of Genova, which is nestled in the Italian Riviera. Growing up, English and Italian were the main languages of the household in New York. RAI television blasted from the television and my mother would pour the fear of God down our throats by reading to us often Dante’s Inferno, as a reminder to behave well. Yet when I enrolled in USF for the first time in 2009 and triple majored in International Relations, French, and Italian, I had little clue of one thing that the Italian is as well; a vital language for those pursuing a career in International Relations.

Having colonized both the African Horn and Libya and with Brazil hosting the largest population of Italian citizens outside of Italy, Italian is the language that opens your doors to the world. Majoring in Italian permitted me to understand other areas of the world with considerable Italian influence and understand the major player Italy is in world governance. I managed to get a grasp of this as well when I was President of the Italian Culture Club from 2011 to 2012 and noticed members relating their “Italianess” whether they were from Italy proper or even Somalia!

It has also provided me with an unimaginable amount of opportunities. During my last semester at USF, I was hired as Italian Communications and Social Media Intern at KAX Media in Tampa. I was responsible to engage with both an Italian and European media, write press releases in Italian, and even manage the company’s main Italian media site.
After having graduated with my triple degree in 2012, I moved to Paris where my Italian degree continued to play a vital role in my career path. In France, I worked as European and Latin American Communications Specialist and my Italian degree permitted me to help many Italian companies to launch in countries like Argentina and Brazil, where the Italian community is quadruple to that of the Tri-state area.

Currently, I am Committees and Projects Officer at an International Organization in London (the ISUOG). Once again, my Italian degree was been paramount as Italian is one of the languages of the organization. The organization itself deals with Italian NGO’s (such as Fondazione Francesca Rava) and is involved actively in both Somalia and Eritrea; ex Italian colonies where the language is still key in providing charitable aid.

For anyone looking to expand in International Relations, I highly recommend the B.A in Italian. Italian is more than Gucci, spaghetti alla carbonara, and Monica Bellucci – Italian is the language of the world, as well as the language of dreams. And dreams are worth fighting for, aren’t they?"

Gianexis Lopez - Class of 2012

Lopez Student
Lopez (Student)

"Studying Italian at the University of South Florida has shaped me into the person I am today. Words cannot describe my passion for Italy; for its language, its culture, its food and its people. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Italian program at USF. It was not only a department but also a small family.

The professors were helpful and very passionate about teaching Italian, which made learning Italian exciting. Two springs ago I had the opportunity to study abroad for a semester in Florence, Italy thanks to the financial help I acquired by being a recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.

In my semester abroad I realized that I was not done with Italian and that I wanted to live in Italy again. Right before graduating I applied for a paid internship to teach English at one of the schools in Lombardy through the SITE PROGRAM. I was accepted and I am currently living and working in Crema, Italy. If it wasn’t for my desire to study Italian and the Italian program at USF for allowing it I would not be here today."

Nicole Riesenberger - Class of 2008

Nicole (student)

"I graduated from USF in 2008 with a double major in Humanities and Italian. Studying Italian language and culture was truly a life-changing experience for me. The Italian department was a tight-knit group of students and professors who shared my love for all things Italian. I always looked forward to my Italian classes because of the small class size and the inviting atmosphere the professors created. For me, majoring in Italian at USF meant so much more than studying the culture of Italy. My experience in the Italian department introduced me to a whole community of Italians and Italophiles in Tampa, and gave me access to information about events that I could attend nearly every week--ranging from conversation groups and films, to festivals with the Italian Club in Ybor City. Studying Italian at USF deeply enriched my undergraduate experience.

As a sophomore at USF I had the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, at which point I fell in love with Italy--as so many people do! After my first trip to Italy and many Italian courses at USF, I realized that I wanted Italian culture to play a major role in my future. Soon after graduation I moved to Milan, and then to a small town near Livorno, to work as an au pair. This venture allowed me to immerse myself in Italian culture and to become more confident speaking the language. I entered graduate school in 2009, and I am currently a second year PhD student in Art History. Professor La Trecchia's passion for southern Italy piqued my interest in this region very early on and inspired me to write my Master's Thesis on 15th-century Neapolitan sculpture. I hope to pursue dissertation research in this electrifying city and, as always, I am looking forward to my next trip to Italy (whenever that may be)!"

Eric De Donatis - Class of 2013

Eric (student)

"Ciao Professoressa, I wanted to thank you for making my return to school and also my experience at USF an enjoyable one. I was little nervous at returning back to school after such a long time but you as well as other professors made my anxieties subside. I still got intimidated at times at my ability to speak the language but I am still working at that.

I listened to your advice and words of wisdom and they resonated with me and made me realize that I really am doing what I enjoy and what I am meant to do with my life and I look forward to the next chapter of my life to begin and that I have to keep pushing forward. I will begin graduate school in January and I just owe a lot of people a big thank you and you are one of those on my list. So I thank you and wish you well in everything and that you enjoy your sabbatical in Italy and maybe if I can make it over there, we will run into each other. Buona serata Professoressa e tanti auguri per il futuro."

Natalie Marie Wood - Class of 2012

Natalie (student)

"Originally, I began studying Italian simply to avoid losing what I had learned of the language as a teenager. My participation in the Italian Program at USF, however, has given me much more than just language skills; it has provided me with valuable resources, job opportunities, genuine friends, and great memories. It is through my involvement in the Italian Program that I obtained my first job. An advertisement on Blackboard asked for an Italian student interested in doing some translation work for a local author; although I had never thought to use my Italian language skills for translation work (after all, my ambitions at that time were set on becoming US Ambassador to Italy, not being a translator) I decided to respond to the ad.

After meeting the author and completing some practice translations, I was offered the position. The work was tedious and time-consuming, but I was able to finish the project over the course of a year. In that year, I was fortunate enough to create a friendly rapport with the author of the memoir which I was translating. She was a strong-willed and heart-warming 90-year-old woman who had led an eventful life, experiencing firsthand the history most of us have only ever read on the pages of a textbook. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working for Adriana, and I felt privileged to have known such an extraordinary individual. She passed away shortly after her memoir was translated and published; she will be missed, but her story lives on through the memories of which she wrote in her book.

Having enjoyed work as a translator, I decided to try my hand at teaching Italian to others. I was offered a position as Italian language tutor with USF Learning and Tutoring Services. I worked as a tutor for almost two years, and I enjoyed teaching the language I love so much to such enthusiastic students. Not only did we learn the basics and grammar of Italian, but we discussed the culture, the people, and the history of Italy. I cherished the opportunity to share with others the beautiful memories I had growing up in Italy.

My experience as an Italian tutor in turn led me to pursue job opportunities in the education sector that coincided with my second BA in International Studies. I was fortunate enough to discover Gulf Coast Refugee Services, a non-profit organization that assists refugee children that have been resettled in the Tampa Bay area with English language acquisition and overall acculturation. Understanding the difficulty in learning a new language has also helped me to relate to these incredible children who have endured so much and still have a great deal of ambition and desire to succeed. My time at Refugee Youth Services has been one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, and I would trade it for nothing in the world.

I also currently work as an Italian translator for Odyssey Marine Exploration. After working for Adriana, I realized I rather enjoy translation work. Although it can be monotonous, it exercises the brain and constantly expands your knowledge of a language. I hope to always have the opportunity to perform some sort of translation work.

As far as my next step, I have been invited, thanks to the assistance and generous recommendation of Professoressa LaTrecchia, to participate in the SITE internship in Bergamo. I am very excited to continue to use my Italian to pursue other opportunities, and I am forever thankful to the Italian Program at USF and Dr. Patrizia LaTrecchia for guiding me down a path of such diverse and remarkable experiences! Grazie!"

Andrew Gargano - Class of 2011

Student Gargano

"When I changed one of my majors to Italian Studies during my second semester at USF, I hadn’t a clue of the journey I was about to embark on. The Italian Program provided me with a profound experience that offered many unique advantages.

In the fall of my sophomore year, I studied abroad in Florence for a life-changing semester. My time in Italy introduced me to new and different perspectives and it helped to broaden my mind. It also accelerated my learning and prepared me to continue my studies when I returned to USF. The great thing about a major like this is that the option to study abroad is not just available, but highly encouraged (and rightfully so).

The best part of the Italian Program is that it forms its own community. Most of the class sizes are quite small, yet still remain diverse, so it is easy to make friends and work with classmates. Even the quiet introverts can feel comfortable in group discussions. The small classes also provide a great opportunity to get to know the professors on a personal level, which is rare in many other fields. Each professor that I encountered in the program was an expert in her subject area, filled with the passion to teach and the dedication to ensure that each student succeeds.

The classes were fun and exciting, and oftentimes we got to get up and move around, making the lessons that much more engaging. And outside of the classroom, there always seemed to be something to do with the group: a lecture in Ybor City, a film presentation in Hyde Park, or a night out for pizza downtown. These events built a foundation for students to expand their knowledge of Italian culture while also formulating bonds with one another. Even now, I remain in contact with many of my former classmates, and with Dr. LaTrecchia, who is always eager to hear from an old student.

Currently I am living in Rome, working at a British newspaper. Though the publication is in English, my Italian language skills and cultural knowledge are critical to my position. I communicate in Italian on a daily basis and my background on Italy’s political economy is necessary for me to understand stories and develop analyses. Without Dr. LaTrecchia’s continual commitment to the program, and her dedication to my own success, I probably would not be where I am.

I am very grateful for the things that I learned in my Italian Studies courses. The knowledge I gained was not just exclusive to the discipline, but relevant to life as well. My experiences with the program really helped me grow as a person, and they continue to hold a meaningful impact on my life."