Student and alumni spotlight
Maria Mazzaro '14
Undergrad Degree: English/Music
Hometown: New York City
Extracurricular Activities: Writing, singing, reading
How did you select your major/minor?
While at Fairfield, I pursued a double major in English (with a concentration in Creative Writing) and Classical Music. These were my two passions, and, when I was applying to schools, I had trouble deciding on field I should pursue. Thanks to Fairfield, I didn’t have to choose.
Now, I currently work as the editorial assistant at OPERA NEWS Magazine, a division of The Metropolitan Opera Guild in Lincoln Center, New York City. This is the perfect marriage of my academic areas of study. One of my favorite tasks of my job is generating the content for my own section of the monthly publication, but I also love working with the elite of today’s opera and classical music artists.
Describe the ways that the university’s Jesuit mission and identity had a positive influence in your academic and personal experience while at Fairfield.
Fairfield and its Jesuit, liberal arts values helped me as an undergraduate cultivate both my crafts: opera and writing. Now, I have both of my passions united into one ideal career around perhaps the most prestigious opera house in the world. I truly believe that I could not have achieved this dream without Fairfield - especially not without the dedication and guidance I received from the English and Music faculty, who were beside me every single step of the way.
Name: Laura Johnson '14
Undergrad Degree: English (Literature & Cultural Studies and Teacher Education), Spanish minor
Hometown: Bristol, CT
Extracurricular Activities: As a Fairfield undergrad: Service Learning Associate, Spanish Peer Tutor, Mercy Learning Center Volunteer, Ignatian Residential College Alumni Mentor, Lector in Campus Ministry; Other Professional: Substitute Teacher for Bristol Public Schools, Volunteer for the Literacy Volunteers of Central CT & Central CT Family Literacy Center, Waitress at Confetti Restaurant in Plainville; Personal: Playing the Piano, Writing, Reading, & taking Zumba classes
1. Why did you choose to attend Fairfield University?
When I was in the process of making my final decision about which college I would choose to attend, something that stood out to me about Fairfield was that everyone I talked to that was familiar with the university, whether they were an alumnus, parent, faculty/staff member, or current student, had something positive to say about the school and similarly, that all of these people were tremendously helpful in providing advice and answers for the many questions I had. This feeling of warmth was accentuated by the fact that I was able to acquaint myself with the university several times prior to making my decision, from tours to shadowing and interviewing, and most influentially, through the Magis Scholars program’s two-day annual event for admitted students. Another influential factor was Fairfield’s core curriculum, since even though I knew I was going to be an English major, I was unsure of which career I would pursue within the field and felt that I would benefit from taking courses in a variety of disciplines. I remember Fairfield’s Jesuit philosophy making a positive impression on me, as I was able to relate to the theme of applying one’s skills to making a positive difference in the lives of others, since that idea had coincidentally always been one of my own personal goals for the future. A final component central to my decision to attend Fairfield was the Magis Scholarship I was offered, along with additional generous financial assistance in the form of grants, that enabled me to attend the university and played a role in guiding me to make one of the best decisions of my life.
2. Describe a project done through the English program of which you are particularly proud
A project that I am particularly proud of accomplishing as an undergraduate at Fairfield was an Independent Study that doubled as my Senior Honors Project for the university’s Honors Program. Entitled “Educate a woman…Educate a family: A Case Study of Early Childhood Education at Mercy Learning Center”, referencing the organization’s motto, the project started with a literature review covering the topics of adult literacy, family literacy, and early childhood education, including research either specific to Bridgeport and the Connecticut area or applicable given the demographic of Mercy Learning Center’s population. This portion led up to a case study including observational data of Mercy Learning Center’s Early Childhood Education program and data gathered from personal interviews of staff from the Child Care, Family Literacy, and Volunteer Enrichment sectors of the program. As someone who is very passionate about the issue of adult literacy and the importance of giving all children the same access to education, it was very fulfilling to compose a thesis paper on the subject that conveyed its importance in our society and to be able to showcase such an extraordinary model for achieving family literacy as Mercy Learning Center. It was also incredibly beneficial for me to gain experience conducting research in the field of English and learning how it could be woven into a research article. I was privileged to complete this project under the guidance and supervision of Dr. Betsy Bowen and had a chance to present the findings at the university’s Research and Creative Arts Symposium this past April. At Dr. Bowen’s suggestion, I also just recently submitted a shorter version of the paper to the Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning and Community-Based Research for possible publication.
Name: Alan Pelaez Lopez '15
Undergrad Degree: English (professional writing) and Sociology
Hometown: Atizapan de Zaragoza, MX
Extracurricular Activities: Students for Social Justice, Spanish American Latino Student Association, Muslim Student Association
1. Describe a project done through the English program of which you are particularly proud
As an English major, I had the most wonderful experience when I was accepted to attend UC Berkeley for the summer of 2014 to be a part of Voices of Our Nation, the only multi-genre writing workshop for people of color. I was one of 140 that were accepted with an application pool of over 600. The faculty included Randall Kenan, Junot Diaz, Staceyann Chin, etc. I was able to workshop my poetry with other writers, and gain skills to ultimately publish my own selection of poems. Each day, we read about 50 pages of each other’s work and shared critical comments, experiences, and a lot of heart.
2. Describe the ways that the university’s Jesuit mission and identity had a positive influence in your academic and personal experience while at Fairfield.
My first day at Fairfield, I had no idea what a Jesuit was, but as I spent more time on campus and with friends, I was able to see the mission as one of social justice. The mission has helped my personal experience as it has allowed me to share my story and heal with others. For the past two years, I have been able to attend the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s Family Teach in, where I have met other activist that focus on international human rights, poverty eradication, Palestinian solidarity, etc. Without these experiences, I don’t think I would have enjoyed Fairfield as I do now.
Name: Ali Famigletti '14
Undergrad Degree: English (concentration in teacher education) and Italian
Hometown: Lynbrook, New York
Extracurricular Activities: RA for Gonzaga; Peer Mediation Club Leadership Member; Studied abroad in Florence, Italy
Honors and Awards: Magis Scholarship, Alpha Mu Gamma: Foreign Language Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta: International English Honor Society, English Department Award in Creative Non-Fiction 2013
1. Why did you choose to study your major at Fairfield University?
I came into Fairfield with a declared major in English. I chose to study English because it was (and is) my passion. Fairfield’s wide variety of course offerings in English challenged me to engage with ideas I never considered before. They also enhanced my reading, writing, and oral skills which have become crucial to my progress in and out of the classroom. My grasp of the English language and my passion for sharing the human experience developed profoundly with the inspirational guidance of my amazing professors.
In my second semester as a first-year student, I added Italian as my double major because it was (and is), my second passion. I chose to take classes in Italian as part of the core-language requirement. These classes showed me that studying a second language would be imperative to my success after college and to my growth as an individual through cultural enrichment. I achieved an advanced level of facility in the Italian language and deepened my immense appreciation for what I consider to be one of the most authentic and resonant cultures in the world.
2. How have you been inspired in pursuit of your academic interests?
The members of the English and Italian departments at Fairfield have been essential to my success as a student and my personal growth these past four years. When I expressed that I wanted to study abroad in Florence, Italy during the spring semester of my junior year, my multiple advisors were extremely supportive and encouraged me to do something outside of my comfort zone. With their guidance, I opted to partake in an academic internship as an ELTA (English Language Teaching Assistant) in two elementary schools outside of Florence. As an ELTA, I used my English major skills to help 3rd and 5th grade Italian students learn English. As a student of Italian language and culture, I used my Italian major skills to navigate around the city of Florence the country of Italy. This experience was the ultimate fusion of my academic interests and personal goals. I was completely inspired to continue working in both of these fields after experiencing them first hand last spring. After graduation, I will return to Florence to work for Fairfield University as the Program Assistant for the Fairfield Florence program. Four years ago, I would never have dreamed that this opportunity was possible. Today, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.