Regan O’Kon graduated from ASU’s School of International Letters and Cultures in 2002 with a degree in Italian Studies and a minor in French. After receiving her Master’s degree, she returned to teach at SILC for five years and now works as a trade marketing manager for Campari America.
Why did you choose this language?
I had a full scholarship at ASU, but I also needed to work full time. I saw an Italian class offered on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and I signed up. Initially, I thought it would be fun to know some Italian because I LOVE pasta. So much so, that when I was little and chubby, everyone said I had a "pasta pot." I still remember my first day and learning to say "Mi chiamo Regan." I immediately loved the sound of the language, and with the support of the department, I began taking major level classes my second year. My initial love of pasta became a love of the language, culture, and literary tradition.
What did you like most about SILC? What helped you prepare for your future?
The atmosphere at SILC was encouraging and personal – I had direct contact with all of my professors. Juliann Vitullo, Piero Baldini, and Chiara Lage all encouraged me to take more classes and further my studies. I also liked the community atmosphere and the Italian Club pizza and cooking parties. Between studying and teaching, I spent 10 years at SILC. My longest tenure anywhere. I still miss my professors and my students. The skills I honed as an instructor have helped me immensely in my career in business. Teaching will always be one of my great passions.
How does language and culture help you succeed in your career?
I have the opportunity to speak Italian with many of my colleagues. Most importantly, I have cultural perspective on important customs and traditions such as the aperitivo!
What kind of an impact did study abroad have on your language experience?
I studied abroad twice in undergrad in Florence, Italy and my second year of graduate school in Naples. My study abroad experiences remain some of my fondest memories. It changed my life and offered me great perspective on the breadth of cultural diversity within countries. In graduate school, I studied Neapolitan dialect and culinary traditions!
I still try to "study abroad" each year in Italy. I love the country, and I miss it when I don't visit regularly. I am currently planning my honeymoon in Sardinia and brushing up on my Italian.
Any advice for current SILC students?
FOLLOW. YOUR. HEART. Don't be discouraged from people who look at you cross-eyed and say, "What will you ever do with that degree?" Nothing is more marketable than authenticity. Trust yourself and your dreams. In many jobs, you learn your duties on the job. It takes time, patience, and dedication to learn a language. That discipline is reflected in your work ethic.
Take your time. Working is always there. Enjoy your study abroad, drink wine, eat new foods, and make new friends.