Sustainability in Our Hands: Alumna Gaia Di Tommaso
Born and raised in Rome, alumna Gaia Di Tommaso graduated in 2019 with a B.A. in International Affairs and a minor in Economics. Gaia recently earned her M.Sc. in Sustainability, Science, Policy, and Society from the Maastricht Sustainability Institute in the Netherlands. She will soon start working on Versace’s compliance and sustainability team.
Congratulations on earning your graduate degree from the Maastricht Sustainability Institute. What sparked your interest in Sustainability?
I have been interested in sustainability for a long time. I started educating myself on sustainable food systems back in my high school days, and I have been a vegetarian for a while. It was interesting to see the nexus between the food I was consuming and the lower environmental and human footprint it had. As a multi-domain issue, sustainability started to have a different meaning for me over the years, encompassing all my other interests. For example, for clothes, I started to first buy items from sustainable brands or from vintage/secondhand shops, and now I shop as little as I can for new ones. When it came to choosing what to do with my future career after graduation from John Cabot University, I could not ignore that the world was (and still is) at a standstill regarding climate change adaptation and mitigation. This brought me to look at graduate programs in the environmental or sustainability realm. The one offered by Maastricht University definitely stood out as it represented a middle ground between business studies, environmental policy, and science. Further, I had already come to value JCU’s international environment, and I wanted to find a similar atmosphere for my master’s degree. During my time at MSI, the program did not fail to meet my expectations: an interdisciplinary program with a diverse cohort, all moved by the desire to make sustainability more than just a theoretical concept.
What brought you to JCU?
I learned about JCU from my sister’s friend who attended while I was still in high school. I have always known that I wanted to go to a university where I could continue my studies in English and have a unique international experience. At JCU, I found like-minded people, and I had the unique opportunity to fulfill my ambitions and curiosity by mixing the two programs that I wished to pursue – International Affairs and Economics.
Are there any professors/classes that inspired you?
There are three professors who had an impact on my studies at JCU and even more generally on my life: Professors Eszter Salgó, Andrew Rutt, and Simona Costagli. Professor Salgó’s “World Politics” class was my first introduction to the subject, and I will forever remember the lively discussions on European politics in the “Institutions and Policies of the European Union” class. Professor Rutt’s words and support inspired me to make my passions a lifetime and career commitment. Lastly, I had the opportunity to attend two courses (“Macroeconomics” and “Economics of China”) with Professor Costagli, whose kindness and devotion to teaching I still miss to this day.
What advice would you give to students who are considering pursuing graduate studies?
My advice to anyone wanting to go into graduate programs is very simple: choose something you are passionate about. This will make even the most complicated tasks seem effortless.
What are your plans for the future?
After a first experience in Prysmian S.p.A. (a multinational corporation that manufactures telecom cables), where I had the opportunity to deep dive into what corporate sustainability means for an important public company, I am now starting an exciting new adventure in Versace, as part of their compliance and sustainability team. In the future, I would like to continue to be part of a much-needed sustainable change within the fashion and luxury industry.