John Cabot University Celebrates the Class of 2024

On May 13, John Cabot University celebrated the Class of 2024 at a ceremony held at the Villa Aurelia on the Janiculum Hill overlooking the city of Rome. 15 students received their Master of Arts in Art History, 219 received their Bachelor of Arts, and 1 received an Associate of Arts degree.

President Franco Pavoncello’s Address
After an ecumenical invocation by His Most Eminent Highness, Frà John T. Dunlap, Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, JCU President Franco Pavoncello congratulated the Class of 2024, which hails from 35 countries. “In thinking about this graduating class, two words come to mind: courage and persistence,” said President Pavoncello, recalling that many of the graduates began their studies during the challenging days of the Covid-19 pandemic, but they managed to thrive and complete their studies with resilience and determination. “In your years here, you have learned to be leaders, which, as Professor of the Year, Isabella Clough Marinaro eloquently said at the recent Graduation dinner, is ‘not about speaking loudest, or imposing one’s views, but listening to others and building shared goals together,’” said President Pavoncello.

The Class of 2024 with Dean Stefano Arnone (left) and President Franco Pavoncello (right)

According to President Pavoncello, in addition to helping students to blossom in their careers and private lives, the education received at JCU has given them the tools to be dedicated citizens in this complex moment in society: “Humanity struggles to find a model of sustainable growth and climate change mitigation while it grapples with the unexpected and unpredictable age of artificial intelligence, which might deeply transform the way we live sooner than we think. These great challenges demand a joint effort of all humanity, but today the world is also plagued with heartbreaking, devastating wars and renewed great power rivalries that we thought belonged to a past era. I am confident that your resilience and the education you received at JCU, with your exposure to critical thinking in an international, diverse community, will serve you well in facing these challenges. You are part of the generation of young leaders that will inherit the world, and I am sure that you will make your contribution in building a more peaceful and more promising world for yourselves and for younger generations.”

Congratulations from Board of Trustees Vice-Chair Portia Prebys
Dr. Portia Prebys conveyed heartfelt congratulations to the graduates on behalf of the JCU Board of Trustees. “You graduates are the institutional treasure that John Cabot University is entrusting to the world today, and we are doing so willingly, knowing full well that each of you possesses the inner strength and formal academic skills to continue to create, inspire, and maintain a world full of truth, beauty, and goodness,” said Dr. Prebys.

JCU 2024 Commencement Speaker Marta Dassù
JCU 2024 Commencement Speaker Marta Dassù

Commencement Speaker Marta Dassù
Marta Dassù is Senior Advisor for European Affairs at the Aspen Institute, and Editor-in-chief of Aspenia, the journal of Aspen Institute Italia. She was Italy’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs from November 2011 to February 2014. She is a Board Member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, IAI (Istituto Affari Internazionali), and the European Policy Centre’s Strategic Council, as well as Vice President of the Center for American Studies in Rome. 

“My main message to you today is very simple,” said Dassù to the Class of 2024: “Use these three ingredients together, your heart, your mind, your personal commitment, and you will certainly succeed.” She then offered some insights from her professional journey, which spans over five decades. “First, do not take anything for granted, keep questioning mainstream thinking because we really need fresh ideas, and they will come only from you. Second, read a lot, be curious, and strive for a holistic vision, even as you cultivate highly specialized competence. We are living in times where artificial intelligence must be combined with human centrality. Find your own balance between what you already know and what you need to learn because even as you become more self-confident, the spirit of time requires a great deal of flexibility. Lastly, try to strike a satisfactory life balance: your professional life is not everything and an unhappy human being is usually not a good decision-maker for himself, for his family and for the world in general.”

President Pavoncello then conferred the degree of Doctor of International Affairs, honoris causa to Dassù: “Your decades-long contribution to the understanding and dissemination of knowledge from the dynamics of world politics and the promotion of international dialogue and collaboration is a shining example of commitment to the values of scientific and human progress and represent a true inspiration for all of us.”

Senator Francesca La Marca and President Franco Pavoncello

Conferral of Honorary Degree to Senator Francesca La Marca
Born in Toronto, Canada, Senator La Marca holds a Ph.D. in French Literature. In 2013, she was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies in the Italian Parliament, serving in the Foreign Affairs Commission, representing the needs and goals of Italian communities in North and Central America. Her election was the first time that a second-generation Italian citizen had been elected to Parliament in Italy. In 2018, she was re-elected to the Chamber of Deputies, and in 2022, she was elected to the Senate of the Italian Republic in the constituency for Italians abroad as a member of the Italian Democratic Party. She continues to promote the interests of Italian citizens abroad, with special attention dedicated to the issue of reacquisition of citizenship for later generations of Italian ancestry.

President Pavoncello conferred the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa to Senator La Marca. “For years you have served the people of Italy with dedication and intelligence in promoting the study of the Italian language in North America and serving as a voice for the needs and aspirations of Italian communities in North and Central America. Your dedication to public service remains an inspiration for us all.”

Senator La Marca thanked President Pavoncello and said that she was honored and humbled to receive an honorary degree from JCU. “You’re going to make mistakes, it’s inevitable,” she told graduates. “Those mistakes don’t have to define you, and life offers endless opportunities for do-overs. So, if you miss the bus, a high-speed train will likely be along soon for you to hop on. Don’t be so fixated or attached to one single objective or outcome, that it clouds your vision of other opportunities hiding, and just waiting to be discovered.” Senator La Marca told students to listen to their inner voice. “What is it that you really want out of life? It’s never too early or too late to ask yourself this fundamental question.” According to Senator La Marca, success in life depends exclusively on what we believe to be true about ourselves, regardless of what others tell us. “Don’t be afraid to go against the grain to not conform and to fight for what you believe in with conviction, but also with humility and a kind heart,” she concluded.

Class of 2024 Valedictorian Giovanni Tremontini

Born and raised in Rome, Giovanni received a B.A. in Economics and Finance summa cum laude, with minors in Business Administration and Mathematics. He has been accepted to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for an M.S. in Applied Math, where he will specialize in Mathematical Economics.

Class of 2024 Valedictorian Giovanni Tremontini
Class of 2024 Valedictorian Giovanni Tremontini

Giovanni shared personal experiences and reflections on overcoming life’s challenges with persistence and courage, emphasizing the importance of standing by one’s principles and pursuing what is right, even when defeat seems inevitable. He drew inspiration from the 1903 poem “Thermopylae” by Greek poet Constantine Cavafy. The poem commemorates the famous battle of Thermopylae where the 300 Spartans and their allies held off a substantially larger force of Persians, at a huge cost. “My wish for you, Class of 2024, is to have the courage to stand by the “Thermopylae” of your life and so that you may react and endure with grace, honor, fortitude, even when failure seems the only outcome and by doing so, that you may overcome your worst moments, to greater challenges and greater victories. Class of 2024, ad maiora!

Conferral of Degrees
Dean of Academic Affairs Stefano Arnone presented diplomas to graduates, who received their  Master of Arts in Art History, Bachelor of Arts in Art History, Business Administration, Classical Studies, Communications, Economics and Finance, English Literature, History, Humanistic Studies, International Affairs, International Business, Italian Studies, Marketing, Political Science, and Psychological Science, and Associate of Arts in Business Administration.

Congratulations Class of 2024 from the entire JCU community!

Watch the ceremony on JCU’s YouTube channel.