2019 Scholarship Winners



Letters from the Winners

Julia Paola

Dear Abruzzo Molise Heritage Society,

I am writing to thank you for selecting me as a recipient of the 2019 NIAF Abruzzo Molise Heritage Society Matching Scholarship. I am truly appreciative of your generosity and I am honored to have been chosen from a diverse pool of applicants. Your contribution will help me further my education by lessening my financial burden and allowing me to focus on more important things such as pursuing my degrees and building my personal identity.

I am currently majoring in International Affairs and Political Science with minors in both Italian Literature and Language and History. I aspire to work for the US Department of State and have a career that allows me to expand my interest in travel. No matter what position I achieve, I hope to continue to learn while serving others in the community around me, just as you have helped me.

From a young age, I have been enamored with my Italian-American heritage and how it impacts my personal identity. I have a deep appreciation for my family and those who immigrated before them, and now have great hopes for my achievements just as they did.

Once again, thank you for helping me pursue my educational goals through your generous scholarship.  Throughout my years in college, I hope to take steps to maintain my cultural roots and serve as a student liaison of Italian heritage. Your gift has inspired me to serve my community and hopefully give back one day, just as you all have done for me. Thank you for enabling me to follow my ‘American Dream.’

Grazie mille,

Julia Paola
The George Washington University
Elliott School of International Affairs

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Thomas Ronan

Dear Abruzzo Molise Heritage Society:

I cannot begin to express my gratitude to your foundation for its incredibly generous gift of $4,000 for my studies. I will use these funds to honor Italy to the best of my ability in the Heritage Society’s very own Washington, D.C. beginning this fall as an Italian major at Georgetown University.

Growing up, I spent my summers in Bergamo, Italy, with my mother’s family. The city’s historic center, Citta Alta, a medieval citadel built on Roman ruins and surrounded by sixteenth-century Venetian walls, was the backdrop of much of my childhood fun. Perhaps it was inevitable that as I got older, I would be drawn powerfully to the history and culture of Rome and medieval and Renaissance Italy.

As a freshman in high school, I wrote my National History Day paper on Caesar’s Gallic Wars and I was fortunate enough to qualify for the national competition in D.C. The experience inspired me to study Latin and Roman topography in Rome itself at Saint Stephen’s School Summer Program. During my sophomore year, I read a translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy in my free time. The wildly imaginative epic led me to the Calder Classics program the following summer in its author’s hometown of Florence, where I studied medieval and Renaissance Italian art and read original Roman texts in Latin. In my junior year, I read Boccaccio and Petrarch independently, and the next summer, I shadowed at the Accademia Carrara art museum in Bergamo, where I was quite literally surrounded by medieval and Renaissance paintings. I also volunteered at Bergamo’s Caritas, where I served meals to and made friendships with some of the city’s unemployed residents, most of whom were new Italians-migrants from Africa and the Middle East.

I will emphasize late medieval and Renaissance Italian history, art, and literature in my studies at Georgetown and work to improve my Italian writing. I hope to use my knowledge of Italian and Italy in a career of international law or foreign service. The Abruzzo Molise Heritage Society will not only help me in advancing in my studies, but it will also allow me to form a more pan-Italian view of my heritage. Your society’s remarkable gift to me, a student whose family hails neither from Abruzzo nor Molise, truly reflects its noble goal-“to foster the cultural heritage of these two regions and Italy.” Your example of trans-regional generosity inspires me to learn more about Italian regions unknown to me and to celebrate our common Italian identity rather than regional loyalties.

I cannot thank you enough.


Thomas Ronan