Speak Your Passion: Alumnus Giacomo Sproccati
Born and raised in Milan, Italy, alumnus Giacomo Sproccati, Class of 2015, participated in the Dual Degree Exchange Program in Communications between John Cabot University and the Università degli Studi di Milano. He then went on to earn an M.A. in Italian Studies from California State University at Long Beach. Giacomo is currently working as Program Coordinator and Adjunct Professor of Italian Language at Florida State University International Programs in Florence.
Tell us about your background.
I went to a language high school which helped me discover my passion for cultural differences and communication. I had the privilege to combine the in-depth study of English and Spanish with communication courses such as social sciences, history and theory of mass media, and Information Technology. Then, I joined the degree program in “Comunicazione e Società” at the Università degli Studi di Milano and soon found out about the Dual Degree Exchange Program with JCU.
What made you decide to enroll in the JCU dual degree program in Communications with the University of Milan?
I decided to enroll because I was eager to explore the combination of an American higher education campus and the Eternal City, two realities mostly new to me. The dual degree program proved to be an incredible opportunity. JCU is a tight community, and both the academic and extra-curricular opportunities available are simply terrific. I was able to work closely with my professors to improve my writing and communication skills. The three biggest advantages were being part of a vibrant international community, developing critical-thinking skills during class discussions and while interacting with my classmates, and working on campus. As a Communications Intern at the Center for Career Services, I was able to put into practice many of the skills I had learned in class, while Professor Antonella Salvatore, the Director of the center, took time to review my work and provided constant feedback to help me improve.
What classes and/or professors impacted you the most during your years at JCU?
I will never forget the Summer of 2013, the beginning of my exchange program at JCU. As a long-time public speaking enthusiast, I was truly inspired to cultivate my passion by Professor Thomas Govero. He suggested going to a Toastmasters meeting, and his advice allowed me to embrace new challenges on stage and win competitions.
Professor Federica Capoferri was incredible. She was able to convey her strong passion for Italian Cinema, and she always encouraged and guided students toward improvement. Lastly, Professor Antonio Lopez‘s Digital Media Culture course, Professor Peter Sarram‘s Advanced Communications Theory, and Professor Clelia Clini’s Global Media course were absolutely paramount in developing the critical-thinking skills that allow me to succeed in my tasks at work still today. I am especially appreciative of visiting professor Karl Squitier, with whom I had memorable conversations and who was always encouraging even if I never took one of his courses.
What was it like to go from an undergraduate degree in Communications to a graduate program in Italian Studies?
My degree in Communications helped me to set a goal before beginning my M.A. I regarded my graduate program as an opportunity to step up my game while exploring new areas of study. I knew I wanted to merge Italian Studies and Communication Studies. My multidisciplinary approach presented me with some struggles at first, but then Dr. Clorinda Donato, who was Chair of the George L. Graziadio Center for Italian Studies and Graduate Advisor, showed a lot of support. She helped me find two highly renowned Communications scholars, Dr. Craig Smith and Dr. Kevin Johnson, who joined my Thesis Committee, and who contributed significantly to the successful completion of my final research project. My thesis focused on the study of narratives of national identity that two speakers employed in their TED Talks to build a sense of national belonging in Italy. The funny story is that I remembered Dr. Johnson from the summer of 2013 when he taught at JCU. What a small world!
You’re currently working as Program Coordinator and Adjunct Professor of Italian Language at Florida State University International Programs in Florence. Tell us about a challenge that you encountered and how you overcame it.
I really like my positions at FSU Florence. Being both an Administrator and a Faculty member truly gives me the chance to connect and build strong bonds with the students. The job is very demanding and at times intense, so it can be a struggle to pause and take a break while there is always so much to do. Initially, it was hard, but I’ve improved over time. I have found it extremely useful to set time limits on tasks to maximize my productivity.
You’re also involved with the Millie Group as a public speaking mentor. How did you become interested in public speaking? What tips and advice would you give to people who have trouble speaking in public?
I became interested in public speaking in high school when I joined Model United Nations. Even if I agree that addressing an unknown audience in a foreign language is frightening, I also find it extremely exciting at the same time. Millie gave me the opportunity to give webinars to help high school students familiarize themselves with some tricks in public speaking. My biggest recommendation is to embrace the fear, to look at public speaking as an opportunity to speak your passion, and to practice as much as possible. I still get nervous before speaking in public, but it is exactly this agitation that allows me to bring out all my excitement on stage. Practicing before the actual presentation is certainly a good way to keep the anxiety under control. To the same extent, breathing techniques are helpful too.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering studying Communications at JCU?
My advice is to choose Communications at JCU because you will embark on an incredible journey. At the end of the journey, you’ll be stronger and more aware. Your critical-thinking skills will be rock solid, and with such abilities, you are bound to succeed. Even if you choose another major, Communications is useful and matches well with any other field of study, so definitely minor in Communications, if you don’t major. Either way, you certainly will not regret it.
What are your plans for the future?
I truly love working with students because they teach me a lot. I see myself having a career in American higher education in Italy because it allows me to explore cultural differences with my students. I truly enjoy classroom discussions and taking students on excursions to show them what an amazing country Italy is. The most significant change I see in the short term is teaching public speaking as of Spring 2022. In the long-term, in addition to higher education, I also see myself working part-time as a freelance public speaking coach or speechwriter.