Making the Most Out of the Experience: Student Gioia Kunst

Born in Los Angeles to an American father and an Italian mother, student Gioia Kunst is pursuing a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Legal Studies at JCU. After living most of her life in Chino Hills, CA, she moved to Rome with her family. At JCU, she is Orientation Team Leader and Treasurer of the Women’s Leadership Initiative.

Gioia Kunst
Gioia Kunst

What brought you to JCU?
When I initially moved to Rome to stay close to my family, I was 16 and my plan was to finish high school online and then move back to the States for college. But I fell in love with Rome and its people and decided to stay. I knew I wanted to study psychology, and with the help of my parents, I found out that JCU was inaugurating a B.A. in Psychological Science the very semester I was supposed to start college, in Fall 2020. I knew it was the place for me and I immediately applied.

What made you decide to combine a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Legal Studies at JCU?
During high school, I took a criminology course, which was what I wanted to study first. A chapter in the textbook about the psychology of criminals convinced me right away that it was the right major for me. I wanted to know more about the human mind and why people behave the way they do. When I learned that JCU offered a minor in Legal Studies, I thought it was the perfect combination.

You are an Orientation Team Leader for JCU. What does your role include and what are the challenges of it?
Working with the Orientation Team is a big responsibility because we are the first faces that new students see when they arrive at JCU. We organize many activities for our new students such as workshops, campus tours, and walking tours around the city center. As Team Leader, I am a point of reference for new students and the other Orientation Leaders. Orientation Week is a hectic time and Orientation Leaders work in multiple places (campuses, the airport, and around Trastevere), so we must have the ability to adapt and communicate effectively. Spring 2024 will be my 8th time working with the Orientation Team, and it has been one of the most enriching and memorable experiences of my four years here at JCU. I have made friendships and memories that I will carry with me forever and I could not be more grateful.

You are also Treasurer of the Women’s Leadership Initiative. What project/initiatives are you currently working on?
This is my third semester working on the board of the Women’s Leadership Initiative as Treasurer and it has been so rewarding. We always try to create new opportunities for the JCU community with workshops and initiatives such as the Equity Project in collaboration with the JCU Office of Health and Wellbeing to provide free feminine hygiene products on campus.

How have all these activities enriched your experience here?
When I first started at JCU, I wanted to take it slow, become familiar with my new reality, and focus on my studies before adding anything extra. After my first semester, my student life boomed. I started working as an Admissions Ambassador, then became an Orientation Team Leader, and joined the board of the Women’s Leadership Initiative. I feel this really helped me make the most out of my experience here.

What advice would you give to students who are considering studying at JCU?
I would give the same piece of advice that I gave to myself my first semester, and that is to just take it all in at first.  Four years of college seem to fly by, but you really have time to enjoy yourself and your studies and friends. Try new things, join clubs, travel, but don’t let your schedule be so packed that you can’t find joy in what you’re doing. JCU offers a college experience like no other university, and you should savor and be mindful of it as much as you can.

What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the near future include going to graduate school. I’m currently applying to various master’s programs in clinical psychology in the Netherlands. I would like to eventually receive a Psy.D. (Ph.D. in Psychology) and start my own private practice. I definitely see myself exploring other places outside Italy while doing all of this and settling down in a new country.