Community Feel: Meet Student Dafne Cunillé Rentería

Born in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Dafne Cunillé Rentería is a junior at JCU majoring in Communications with a double minor in Art and Design and Digital Media Arts and Production. She is a Resident Assistant and a member of the Studio Art and Design Club.

What brought you to Rome and JCU?
I studied in Ciudad Juárez until I was 17, and then came to Rome immediately after graduating high school. I was thinking of studying in Mexico, then I found an agency that helped me apply to different universities. I had applied to five schools abroad – three in the US, one in Spain, and JCU, which was my best option. I was familiar with the American education system and American culture in general because I went to a bilingual high school and lived close to the border.

Adapting to living in Italy was not as difficult as I thought. My sister studied in Florence, so I knew a little bit about Italian culture, which is similar to the Mexican one. I immediately felt at home thanks to the warmth of the people.

Dafne Cunillé Renteria
Dafne Cunillé Renteria

Why did you decide to major in Communications with a double minor in Art and Design and Digital Media Arts and Production?
I was interested in JCU’s Communications program because it covers different branches of media, which allowed me to discover what I liked. I didn’t feel pressure to decide on something specifically. I have been interested in art since elementary school, and I have always had a passion for design, which is why I added Art and Design as a minor. I learned about film and production here and decided to add the Digital Media Arts and Production minor because that is something I want to pursue in the future.

You’re also a Resident Assistant and a member of the Studio Art and Design Club. How have these activities enriched your time at JCU?
Being an RA has pushed me to become more involved in the JCU community because I spent time with many students, both as a student and as a staff member.

Being part of the Studio Art Club has helped me develop my interests and build a community of people who also love art. Having a community is important, especially in international schools. Finding people who are interested in the same things has helped me feel safe in a new school, a new country, and a new culture.

What made you decide to go to college abroad?
I liked the idea of being in a different environment, and I wanted to learn a new language in college since I was able to learn a little bit of French when I studied abroad in Canada in high school. I also needed to get out of my familiar space after being stuck in the pandemic for so long. I hoped that studying abroad in Rome would give me a new perspective and push me out of my comfort zone. By studying abroad, I get to be around people who are different from me, which is extremely valuable.

What’s been the most surprising thing about studying at JCU and in Rome?
The number of cultures I have had the chance to encounter. Here, international students are more common than they are in Mexico. It has been surprising to meet many people from all over the world, and even from my own country.

What advice would you give to students considering JCU?
Be open to new opportunities, from trying clubs to choosing classes. It’s important to be open-minded about going outside of your comfort zone to learn new things. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned here is that although it is a sacrifice for me to be away from my family, what I’m learning compensates for it. My family members didn’t have this opportunity when they were young, and this has made me realize how amazing this experience is.

What are your plans for the future?
I want to continue studying after I finish my undergraduate degree. I really want to go into video production for fashion brands or digital design for magazines.