When you learn a second language, it opens doors to understanding other cultures better. It's important that students who have this interest can continue to explore it.
From the time she could walk, Giuliana Ferrara '22 was engaging with her Italian heritage during summers spent abroad with family — and cultivating an interest in foreign languages and cultures that she'd later explore at Bucknell.
"Spending time abroad growing up made me realize there are so many different cultures, experiences and ways of thinking in the world," says the New Jersey native, who still visits Italy every year with her father, an Italian immigrant. "That's what influenced me to embark on a path toward cultural studies, realizing that I wanted to know more about diverse countries — especially the one my family is from."
At Bucknell, Ferrara didn't just discover a way to explore her roots through a double major in Italian studies and international relations. She's also channeled her passion for global education into on-campus leadership and research.
As head of Bucknell's Student Language Council, Ferrara collaborates with staff and faculty to plan events centered around second-language acquisition. She recently organized a workshop where students could explore the benefits of studying a language abroad.
"In today's world, being a global citizen and understanding the benefits of intercultural awareness is vital," Ferrara says. "Creating global citizens is the goal of every event I help plan on campus."
It's a goal that also fuels her undergraduate research. As a Presidential Fellow, Ferrara has been working closely with faculty mentors on a four-year research project related to her interests in culture and language.
In just her first two years, Ferrara developed and administered two University-wide surveys that measure how studying a second language sharpens students' cognitive skills. She presented her findings at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) convention in Washington, D.C., alongside her faculty advisers.
"It was a great experience for me since this was the first time I've presented academic research in this kind of setting," she says.
The ability to do important research from her first year was one of the main reasons Ferrara chose Bucknell. The opportunity to present her work to ACTFL — which sets the standards for language education in the U.S. — "was especially amazing," she adds.
Ferrara hopes her research will help educators around the nation develop language studies curriculum that brings out the best in students — and inspires them to pursue cultural education beyond the classroom.
"When you learn a second language, it opens doors to understanding other cultures better," she says. "It's important that students who have this interest can continue to explore it."