Marist Italy

Marist Italy Celebrates Commencement

Michelle Eggink, Assistant Director of Content Marketing & Communications
Marist Italy Commencement. Photo by Nico Magri.

May 29, 2024 — Less than 48 hours after Poughkeepsie Commencement ceremonies concluded, Marist students received diplomas in Florence, Italy. This year, the College honored eight students at Florence’s historic Palazzo Budini Gattai.

Image of President Weinman at Florence Commencement.

President Weinman speaking at Marist Italy Commencement. Photo by Nico Magri.

President Kevin Weinman, who made the trip to Florence after Commencement weekend in Poughkeepsie, praised the class for its resilience and developing skills to succeed in a unique international setting.

“You are equipped to be the leaders that we need right now to confront challenges and address opportunities,” he said. “You are all well positioned to find solutions and help create a brighter future for yourselves, for those around you, and for the world as a whole.”

Image of Florence procession.

Florence Commencement procession with Marist Italy leadership. Photo by Nico Magri.

All of the students celebrated studied at Marist’s branch campus in Florence in partnership with the Lorenzo de’ Medici (LdM) Institute. Each one excelled at making their time at Marist Italy meaningful.

Florence remains a popular destination for Marist students, whether studying for a semester, a full year, or four years. More than 300 Red Foxes plan to participate in semester-abroad programming this fall. Learn more about Marist Italy.

All Marist Italy graduates had unique experiences, among them, Rylie Severino ’24, Nina Penny ’24, and Samantha Riviezzo ’24. Rylie is a talented artist and restoration student who played a key role in restoring a 16th-century painting by Plautilla Nelli. Nina, was instrumental in starting a student government organization and completed an Honors thesis on synthetic materials in antique Italian oil paintings after studying abroad in Tokyo, Japan. Samantha was an indispensable student worker at the Marist Italy office and interned twice at Milan Fashion Week. These are just some of the stories featuring students who made the most of their international experience.  

Consul General Daniela Ballard, US Consul General of Tuscany, and Emilio Romagna was a special guest at the ceremony. She spoke about how the students are true ambassadors of the US in Italy.

Image of Consul General Daniela Ballard, US Consul General of Tuscany, and Emilio Romagna speaking at Florence Commencement.

Consul General Daniela Ballard, US Consul General of Tuscany, and Emilio Romagna speaking at Florence Commencement. Photo by Nico Magri.

The Marist Italy campus in Florence offers both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. These programs have become one of the College’s most distinctive features, attracting students worldwide. While some students choose to earn their full degrees in Florence, others opt for a study abroad experience at the branch campus, which can last a year, a semester, or even a few weeks.

Image of Florence Commencement.

Florence Commencement at historic Palazzo Budini Gattai. Photo by Nico Magri.

Vanessa Nichol-Peters, Director of Marist Italy, discussed how the Marist Italy experience embodies the spirit of Ubuntu, an idea from her home in South Africa that represents our interconnectedness as humans. She spoke about the closeness of the Marist Italy community and the significance of their support for one another.

Vanessa challenged the Marist Italy graduates to “think of the greater questions, not only about what we might do but also who we will become, as a people and as a community. Never forget the power and the privilege of human connection and the value we each bring to those around us. Remember - I am, because we are.”

Associate Provost for International Engagement John Peters reflected on the graduates' bold achievement of graduating abroad.

“Commencement is a time where as graduates you should be very proud, but I believe you have something to be even more proud of: the fact that you chose to study for your degree not in your home country but rather abroad in Italy,” said John. “You were challenged not only in your courses but also by immersing yourself in Florence to make a successful life. The wonderful outcome of this is that you will forever have two homes, your home city and country, as well as Florence, Italy.”

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