Meet Class of 2023 Valedictorian Irene Palermo

John Cabot University’s Dean of Academic Affairs Stefano Arnone is pleased to announce the Valedictorian for the Class of 2023, Irene Palermo. Irene has earned a B.A. in English Literature summa cum laude, with minors in Communications and Creative Writing.

Irene Palermo

Irene Palermo

An anglicized derivation of the Latin vale dicere (“to say farewell”), the word “valedictorian” refers to the student who delivers the farewell statement at the graduation ceremony. This honor is usually granted to the student with the highest grade point average of the graduating class.

Irene grew up on a farm near the beach in Squinzano, a small town in the Puglia region. She attended the Liceo Classico ad indirizzo Linguistico in Lecce, where she studied English, Spanish, and German in addition to classical subjects. She spent her fourth year of high school as an exchange student in North Carolina, which made her decide to continue her studies in English.

“I’ve always loved reading and watching movies, and I vividly remember seeing that JCU offered screenwriting classes as part of the Creative Writing minor. This is how I came to apply to John Cabot: I wanted to improve my speaking and writing skills in the English language and experiment with writing creatively, two things that JCU allowed me to do,” explained Irene.

During her time at JCU, Irene was the student representative for the English Language and Literature Department, she took American Sign Language classes organized by the Student Services team, and worked on an Independent Study in screenwriting during her last semester.

She is currently enrolled in a master’s program in Film Production and Screenwriting at La Sapienza University of Rome, determined to pursue a career as a professional screenwriter.

Here’s what some of Irene’s professors had to say about her:

Shannon Russell, Associate Professor of English
Irene is one of those quiet giants. From her first semester at JCU, never has one of our literature students demonstrated such consistently fine writing and thinking as Irene. She has always had a clear-eyed view of her dreams, and she possesses a very rare balance, maturity, and determination to make them a reality. She wants to go on to be a screenwriter and I have no doubt we will see her name glowing on a screen somewhere in the future.  She will make us all proud.

Alessandra Grego, Associate Professor of English
Irene Palermo is a careful observer and a strong writer, an excellent combination of skills for a screenwriter. It was a pleasure to have her in my classes, since she is focused and curious, always making astute comments and producing remarkably sophisticated papers. Her spectacular GPA shows she has made the most of a liberal arts education, taking an interest in every subject and building the interdisciplinary connections that are so effective in her writing. Congratulations to Irene Palermo, a remarkable student!

Federica Capoferri, Associate Professor of Italian Language and Literature
It was an immense pleasure to have Irene in my course on Italian cinema. Irene was not only, as is obvious from her GPA, an impeccable student in terms of seriousness and dedication, but she has the rarest gift: that of experiencing study and learning as the most beautiful, exciting, and rewarding resource of human intelligence. My wish for her is to cherish her passion for knowledge forever.

Erika Tasini, Lecturer in Communications
Irene’s unwavering commitment to her academic advancement and enthusiastic passion for visual storytelling make her a truly inspiring student. In my screenwriting workshop, she blossomed by learning to trust her own creative voice while substantially improving her professional craft. Her generosity matched with firm determination are strong assets that will serve her well in the continuation of her journey.