Choosing Kindness: Alumna Virginia Agnoni

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Virginia Agnoni, Class of 2016, is from Cori, a town south of Rome. She majored in Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. Virginia was the treasurer of the Grassroots club and a member of the JCU Queer Alliance. After graduating, Virginia obtained a year-long internship with the JCU Payroll Office, which she recently completed. Passionate about literature and animal rights, Virginia runs a foster home for animals. 

Virginia Agnoni

JCU Alumna Virginia Agnoni

How did you decide to apply to JCU?
My best friend and I had just obtained our Italian high school diplomas and we were looking for the perfect university. She had this book called La Grande Guida alle Università Italiane, a guide to universities in Italy. I was leafing through the pages when I saw the JCU logo. I read the description of the university and I wanted to know more. I found the website and a few days later I booked an appointment with the Italian Admissions Office. That’s how my JCU adventure began.

What are the benefits of studying Communications in this day and age?
I believe that being able to communicate correctly and effectively with people is a fundamental tool for any career. Being able to face a job interview, to design an attention-grabbing logo for a company, or even being able to write an interesting and engaging Facebook post are all very important skills. If you are able to convince people that you are the ideal candidate, or that buying your product is a good investment, you’re halfway there!

Congratulations on being accepted to Trinity College in Dublin! What will you be studying? Why did you choose that subject, and why Trinity college?
I have chosen Trinity College because its English Language and Literature department is one of the 25 best in the world.  I have chosen their Master of Philosophy in Popular Literature because I wish to do further graduate study in the field.

What are your career plans?
After the M. Phil. my plan is to continue my research into popular literature in a Ph.D. program and hopefully begin a career as a university professor. I have chosen to keep studying literature thanks to two JCU professors: Alessandra Grego and Federica Capoferri. They are my role models and they have inspired me to the point that I decided to build a career around my biggest passion, books.  I will always be grateful to these two wonderful professors because they opened my eyes and helped me every step of the way.

Which three books would you recommend and why?
My first recommendation would be Oscar Wilde: The Complete Short Stories. It is an enchanting must-have collection and includes beautiful works such as “The Happy Prince,” a short story that makes me cry every time I read it.

Second,  Invisible Monsters by my favorite writer, the American novelist Chuck Palahniuk. It is the story of a fashion model who has everything (fame, money, a wonderful career). Her perfect life changes when a car “accident” leaves her disfigured and incapable of speech. She goes from being the center of attention to being an invisible monster, thus she is forced to reinvent herself and build a new life. And she really does it!

Finally, Margherita Dolcevita by Stefano Benni. My music teacher gave me this book when I was 12, and she told me that it was because the main character, Margherita, was my fictional alter ego. It is a beautiful, funny, and bittersweet novel and I always find myself in that book.

You are an activist for animal rights and rescue. How did you get involved in this? Do you think that the animal rights movement/veganism is going to expand in the future?
When I was 19 my family and I decided to adopt a dog, since animals are my other big passion. We visited different shelters but we couldn’t find the right dog. Then, I saw a Facebook post about a little black puppy named Lilli. Her ex owners were abusive, and luckily they didn’t really want to keep her. A dog rescuer who lives in Cori saved her and took care of her for more than a month. I called her and told her that we really wanted to adopt Lilli. We faced the adoption interview, did the necessary paperwork, and Lilli joined my family. The happiest day of my life.

I am vegan, while my sister and many of my best friends are vegetarians. I think that both the animal rights movement and the vegan movement are rapidly expanding because young people are becoming more and more compassionate. During my years at JCU I met other students who are animal rights activists. Thanks to them and to the support of John Cabot University we organized a fundraising campaign for a small Italian animal rights organization. To me, this is the objective proof that the world is rapidly changing, choosing kindness over killing.

Animal rights association such as PETA sometimes get heavily criticized in the media for shock-campaigns, reaction to news (such as expressing happiness for the death of a hunter, etc.). How can movements such as these improve their public image?
I personally hate extremism of any kind. I believe that extremists are not helping animals. They are just broadening the gap between people who help and protect animals and people who are not really informed about the meat, milk, or fur industries and thus don’t really understand the importance of change. A tragic example is the Israeli animal rights group called “269Life.” They are an extremist animal rights movement and they are also racist, sexist, and homophobic. Unfortunately, many people have started to associate animal rights activists with people who celebrate the death of hunters, vivisectionists, or circus owners. I believe that the only way to improve the public image of animal rights associations is to sponsor positive stories, and show the public that change is possible, beautiful and everyone can be part of it.

Any advice for a new student starting out at JCU?
Just one: make every day of your university experience count!