Top photo: The inaugural group of Secchia Scholars is pictured.
Hannah Frassetto quickly learned how to say "vegetarian" in Italian. Shaylin Cota is living her own version of "The Devil Wears Prada" in Milan.
Frassetto and Cota are among eight Grand Valley students currently studying or completing internships in Italy as the inaugural group of Secchia Scholars. The fund was established through the estate of Peter F. Secchia, former U.S. ambassador to Italy, and his wife, Joan. Students who earn a Secchia Scholarship receive $5,000 to study in Italy.
Frassetto, who is a Meijer Honors College student majoring in advertising and public relations, said the Secchia Scholarship covered most of the cost of her program. "I tried for as many scholarships as made sense to bring the cost down," she said.
Frassetto is staying and studying at John Cabot University in Rome, taking classes in Italian food and culture and Roman monuments. "We talk about these ancient monuments then travel to see them. There are some Italian students in my classes and it's great to hear their perspectives," she said.
Not speaking Italian hasn't slowed Frassetto during her travels, but it did teach her to learn certain words quickly.
"One restaurant we went to did not have menus and the server kept explaining the dishes," she said. "I'm a vegetarian and I tried to ask if this one dish had meat, but he didn't understand. It came with meat on it, so I learned how to say words like 'vegetarian' and 'meat.'"