Meet JCU Director of Admissions Arianna Catti De Gasperi
Arianna Catti De Gasperi is JCU’s Director of Admissions. Born to a Roman father and a Greek mother, Arianna graduated from JCU in 2010 with a B.A. in Communications. She then earned an M.A. in International Journalism from City, University of London.
You are a JCU alumna and the Director of Admissions. What brought you to JCU, first as a student and then as a staff member?
After high school, I spent a gap year in Boston and when I returned to Rome, I wanted to continue my international experience. I learned about JCU through the Dean of Academics at Roma Tre University. I fell in love with the international atmosphere on my first visit to campus. At the time, JCU only hosted about 500 students, and I was one of the very few Italians. After I completed my M.A., I worked as a journalist in both the U.K. and Italy. I learned of a job opening at JCU by chance while speaking with President Franco Pavoncello during a visit to campus as an alumna. We set up an interview for the position of international recruiter. The idea of traveling the world recruiting students was enthralling. From that moment on, JCU has brought me immense personal growth and I am honored to have contributed to increasing the university’s international student population.
What does your job as Director of Admissions entail? What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of being Director of Admissions?
My current position is multifaceted. On the more practical side, I try to ensure that our incoming student enrollments are stable and divided into a 50/50 mix of degree and visiting students. Admissions and enrollment marketing go hand in hand, which makes marketing strategy review an important component of my job. Keeping up with digital trends can be quite a challenge, but when a promotional strategy brings results, it is very rewarding. Admissions must meet multiple targets, so coordinating efforts and liaising with different university departments becomes challenging at times. The constantly changing pandemic regulations coupled with ever-evolving student needs over the past two years have generated particularly arduous hurdles to overcome. One of the largest obstacles was reorganizing our processes to support internal operations, student recruitment, and outreach in completely remote formats. I would say one of the biggest rewards of our work is not only bringing in new students but seeing them thrive academically and personally at JCU and beyond.
What do you think is key to developing a strong team?
Listening and rewarding. Our staff works in the thick of student inquiries, office processes, and university policies. I trust they are professionals and have a firm grasp of best practices. Listening to their feedback is fundamental to shared success. Rewarding and recognizing their professionalism further strengthens the team.
You have been working at JCU for over eight years. How has the University changed over time?
I have seen dramatic changes. When I started as a staff member, we served 900 students with an Admissions staff of 10 people including myself. Over the years we have grown to more than 1500 students and a staff of 20. I’m happy to say that our academic offerings have increased as well, including the addition of our first master’s program in Art History. Further, the University has acquired new spaces for housing, classrooms, and offices. This is a far cry from eight years ago when offices and classrooms were all concentrated in the Guarini campus.
What are the advantages of attending an American university in Rome?
We pride ourselves on building a bridge between the Italian and American cultures. We represent a safe space for Americans living abroad, allowing them to find a little piece of home at JCU. For Italians, we are the first step into the global community. We support international students seeking an American education while remaining close to their home countries. Another advantage is Rome, one of the most unique, beautiful, and historical cities in the world. Location aside, the academic programs, internship opportunities, and life experiences for students are second to none.
Where do you see JCU in 10 years?
We hope to expand our graduate and undergraduate offerings. I think JCU has immense potential. Given that we have reached capacity in terms of attendance and space, our focus will be on expanding academics both in variety and quality. I am sure we will be at the forefront of American education abroad.
What are some important considerations that high school students should keep in mind in the process of choosing a university?
Fit. Fit. Fit. Students should research potential universities’ academic offerings and quality. However, when evaluating where to make a 4-year commitment, especially in a different country, students should keep in mind that their choice will impact their lives forever. As obvious as it may sound, finding a place that is a good fit for you not only as a student, but as a person as well, is of utmost importance. We encourage students to research a university’s student life programs, community, and overall environment. We always recommend that prospective students follow JCU on social media. Seeing the University through the eyes of our current students provides a glimpse of what life here could be like.