From JCU to Columbia School of Journalism: Congratulations Eleonora Francica

Senior Eleonora Francica is from Albano Laziale, near Rome. An International Affairs major and Philosophy minor, she is headed to the Columbia School of Journalism, where she was the only Italian admitted to the Master of Science program for the 2020-2021 academic year.

What made you decide to choose John Cabot University?
The choice was not easy, and it took a lot of courage. Previously, I was enrolled at the University of Rome “La Sapienza” with excellent grades, and I was satisfied with my academic life. However, something was missing. I wanted a future abroad, and an American degree would be the key to a better chance of success in the future. Therefore, after a careful evaluation of other universities and what they were offering, I left everything and bet on John Cabot. In the end, it turned out to be the winning choice. I found a world of academic excellence that spurred and supported me in pursuing my goals and strengthening my skills. In particular, I want to thank Professor Pamela Harris for her professionalism and humanity. She taught me American Government during my first semester and followed me throughout my undergraduate experience. The whole academic body of John Cabot has supported me in my journey to expand my knowledge and improve myself. Thus, I want to express my gratitude to the Departments of International Affairs and History and Humanities for their teachings.

International Affairs and Philosophy, a very interesting combination. How did you come to choose your major and minor?
My major is closely linked to my plans for the future: I want to become a reporter on events related to the world of human rights, politics, and the effects they have on society and international relations. For this reason, I decided to study International Affairs to have the basis and critical thinking skills to understand the concepts I hope to write about in the future. Philosophy, on the other hand, is my first love from high school. I think it is a fundamental subject to develop the ability to reflect upon and critique all sorts of arguments and evaluate various points of view.

Tell us about your experience studying abroad at the New School in NYC.
Studying at New School in New York City was a dream I never thought I would realize until John Cabot offered me this opportunity. I knew the New School because of Hannah Arendt, the German philosopher and historian who taught there in the late ’60s. Studying abroad at the New School was the experience of a lifetime; I loved all my classes along with the stimulating environment I found there. Manhattan helped me rediscover myself, pushing me beyond my limits. I think that every JCU student should take advantage of the study abroad program offered by our university because it is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Living in a place you don’t know allows you to experience what you would never do, understand your skills, and grab every opportunity.

You also had the opportunity to do an internship at the NY-based newspaper, La Voce di New York. What was that experience like?

John Cabot University senior Eleonora Francica

JCU student Eleonora Francica at the United Nations in NYC

I owe a great deal to La Voce di New York, which allowed me to work inside the United Nations Headquarters. When I did not have classes at university, I attended UN committees and briefings with the UN Secretary-General’s spokesperson, who informed the entire international press corps about the decisions made during the day. For a student of international affairs, the chance to put into practice years of studies was unique and rewarding. I had the opportunity to work and exchange information with professional journalists from the most important news sources all over the world, such as Al Jazeera, The World Tribune, CBS News. Besides, I conducted interviews and reported on events outside the UN, such as conventions or protests; there are no words to describe interviewing people on the streets of New York. The internship with La Voce di New York made me realize that journalism is my path, and I have to thank editor Stefano Vaccara for this.

Could you tell us about your work at the Make-A-Wish Foundation?
Since 2016, I have volunteered for the non-profit association Make-A-Wish, which works to fulfill the wishes of children up to age 17 who struggle against serious diseases that put their lives at serious risk. I am very attached to Make-A-Wish, which in 2015 granted me a wish at a time in my life when I could not do anything but dream. Working with this association is not easy: we volunteers take on a crucial role in strengthening the hope and happiness of the people in need of our help. Sometimes children are so sick that they no longer have dreams, so we have to be strong enough to give them back the ability to ‘make a wish.’ In the association, I am in charge of interviewing the children to discover that thing that they most want. Then the organization for granting their wishes begins. The work requires commitment and empathy, but the smile of our children is the greatest reward.

Congratulations on your acceptance to Columbia! What was the selection process like?
Thank you so much! The selection process is long, and it requires assiduousness and commitment. In addition to the academic transcript and general information, Columbia asked for three writing samples, one autobiographical essay, and two professional essays. I also had to answer numerous open-ended questions and provide three letters of recommendation from professors or employers. The last step was the Journalism Writing Test, which consisted of questions on contemporary culture and the writing of two essays. Then, after two months, the admission decision arrived.

What are your plans for the future?
I see my future as a reporter in war zones. Another role that I am interested in is to become the correspondent from Italy for the New York Times. However, I am ready to take any opportunity that comes my way. My final goal is to be a journalist able to express the voices that need to be heard when the world is not listening. I do not know where the future will take me, but I know that I want to be one of those people who can deliver the truth, even if atrocious and inconvenient.

What advice would you give to prospective students considering JCU?
My advice is to think about your future and what kind of experiences you want to have. Choosing JCU is courageous because it is an international environment that challenges you and provides you with diverse points of view every day. Thanks to John Cabot, I have had experiences that I could not have found anywhere else, met people from all over the world, and built my future to be prepared for an Ivy League like Columbia. My advice is always to dare but conscientiously: as long as you do, every choice will turn out to be right in its own way.