Student Speaker Gianluca Avanzato

Learn more about the Commencement speaker for the Class of 2018.
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Student Speaker Gianluca Avanzato


Gianluca Avanzato

Hometown: Oneonta, N.Y.

Major: Political Science

Minors: German and Classics

Activities: Interfaith Union; Writing Center fellow; Golub House Council; Minerva Mentor

Favorite class: Roman Satire with Prof. Angela Commito. In this class, we translated and discussed Petronius’ Satyricon, a text from Ancient Rome (most likely) during the time of the Emperor Nero. Both the class and the text were full of surprises, and I greatly enjoyed my experience. For my final, she allowed me to pursue my interest of poetry by translating some parts of the text creatively into poems.

What I'll miss most: Despite the name, resources, and beauty of Union College, it’s easily the people - faculty, staff, and students - who make this place exemplary and rewarding. I’ll greatly miss friends, especially those friendships I’ve make in the Kappa Alpha society. I’ll also miss the faculty and staff, with whom I’ve had invaluable conversations and from whom I’ve learned so much. I’m forever grateful of all the time and care everyone here has given me.

Advice for incoming students: To obtain a true liberal arts education—or any real education, in my opinion—you must make time to do deep, fulfilling things that aren’t related to grades or resume-building. Take walks, talk to people, read books! Sing! Dance! Go to different religious services, sit somewhere new. Take time to just be! It may seem counterintuitive, especially when informed by stress and the strict expectations of our hurried, consumerist, ends-driven society, but setting aside time to do something fulfilling will actually make you more motivated, productive, and “successful,” however you choose to define that word.

Life after Union: I received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, so I’ll be in Berlin, Germany for a year after graduation. After that, I intend to pursue a Ph.D.

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