Congratulations! 2023 Arizona in Orvieto Award Winners for Classics Majors

April 17th, 2023

Congratulations to the 2023 Arizona in Orvieto Award Winners for Classics Majors:  Gemmalee DyerMok, Morgan Johnson, Nicholas Kaplan, Isaac Myers, and Ruby Staczek.

The award winners are featured below with excerpts of why they personally want to study abroad.

Gemmalee DyerMok:  "I am a double major in Classics and Anthropology, and I will be taking CLAS/RELI 305: “Greek and Roman Religion” through my study abroad program, Arizona in Orvieto! When I declared my Classics major in the Spring of 2021, I was excited to build upon my first major, Anthropology, since the two disciplines are intertwined in their analysis of cultures, language, and fieldwork surveying. I had taken Latin for four years in high school, and I dove into the topic of Latin literature and competed in Junior Classical League events, earning first place in statewide competitions for four years in a row and first place for Latin literature at the National level for the two years I attended. Embarking on my collegiate journey of Classics courses felt like rekindling a part of myself that had been lying dormant—taking Latin again felt like dipping my toes into the pool of ancient Roman culture that I had immersed myself in during my high school years, but now I was older, more mature, and even more interested in expanding my knowledge of the Classical world. I believe that participating in CLAS/RELI 305 in Orvieto will be an absorbing course which will build upon my foundational knowledge of classics and anthropology, and give me a greater insight into a topic I had briefly learned about in a previous anthropology course: why cult practices arose in the environment of the Classical world in Greece and Rome. Because the course is in Orvieto itself, I believe my education will be as compelling as it will be enlivening. I have always wanted to study abroad because I have an enduring desire and curiosity to learn in a variety of methods and places, as it provides new perspectives on information that allow me to grow exponentially. Under the guidance of Dr. Irene Romano, I attended an informational meeting about Arizona in Orvieto last fall and was immediately intrigued: the expansive one-month program provided education in courses related to my major that I have always dreamed of experiencing on-site. The program also promised the prospect of multiple field trips to historically and culturally significant places such as Florence and Tivoli, whereas, until now, I have only seen the beauty and treasures of those places in pictures and videos during class. Of course, Orvieto itself is a city rich in history, and of particular interest to me, is the history of the Etruscans and the Romans who lived in the region. In Anthropology, people who base their theories on other people’s accounts or documentations are called “armchair anthropologists.” I wish to go beyond and surpass that position. I feel that there is no better place for me than Italy, and Orvieto specifically, to obtain the spark and footing for future research for my senior thesis in the style of a true anthropologist and classicist, because I will break free of the armchair and truly live and breathe the knowledge and spirit of the culture that evolved from the Classical world."

Morgan Johnson:  "I am a Classics major with minors in both Family Studies and Human Development; and Library and Information Sciences. I want to study abroad because I am interested in exploring other cultures and getting to experience the world through different academic and social perspectives. Studying abroad gives me the opportunity to do both of these things, as well as see the world with my friends. In my 2023 Study Abroad Program, I will be taking two courses. They are Special Topics: Food, Wine, and Italian Culture, and Intro to the Bible-New Testament. I chose to Major in Classics because I have always been interested in Greek and Roman history. Their literature, languages, and inventions have been pivotal for the development of Western society. I believe it is important to study how their cultures impacted ours and the ways that we can grow from their history."

Nicholas Kaplan:  "I am humbled and honored to have been chosen as a recipient of the Arizona in Orvieto Award. At the University of Arizona, I am pursuing a BA in Classics and a BS in Information Science. As a kid I marveled at photos I saw of ancient Roman structures like the Pantheon and Colosseum, and am so excited to be able to witness them firsthand! On the study abroad I will be taking both Introduction to the New Testament and Greek and Roman Religion. I hope to explore these power dynamics between the rulers and the ruled, and how the competing religions in the Roman empire affected those dynamics. I also want to explore what the place the Classical world should hold in the present age. Some critics say that society holds ancient Greece and Rome too highly in the modern American consciousness, and I want to explore what value the study of these cultures hold, and what, if any, are the limits to that value. The program and award will enable me to widen my perspective of the classical world which I can bring back to my courses at the University of Arizona, enabling me to make more meaningful contributions in my coursework here by bringing in a unique perspective from my experiences in Italy and being able to better contextualize what I learn. The exposure to another culture and way of life will also expand my personal horizons of where I want to go and what I want to do with my life, which will be incredibly personally enriching. The stories and myths of the Classical world have fascinated me since childhood. As I grew up I became equally interested in how democracy and republics were born in the classical world, and the impact of the birth of Western civilization. These two sides, the childlike wonder and enamored curiosity, are why I chose to pursue Classics at the University of Arizona. I am so grateful that this dream of mine has been able to be realized and for the donors who have helped make it possible!"

Isaac Myers: "I'm majoring in Classics, Physics, and Math. I want to study abroad because I have a lot of interest in Italian art and I love making connections with people from different cultures. I'll be taking CLAS/RELI 305, as I find ancient religion fascinating. I chose to major in Classics after first taking Latin in high school and falling in love with the world of ancient Rome and its surroundings."

Ruby Staczek: "I am incredibly honored and grateful to be one of the recipients of Arizona in Orvieto Classics award. This award is allowing me to attend a wonderful study abroad program in Orvieto where I will be able to continue my studies as a double major in Philosophy and Classics. As a classics major, with a background in Latin and Greek, the experience of traveling to Italy, reading Latin inscriptions, and seeing the remains of Ancient Roman cities is unimaginable. Seeing antiquity in Italy is a dream come true, and studying in Orvieto will further my knowledge of Italian and Latin culture. Additionally, I have always had a passion for architecture, and the opportunity to see the growth of architecture throughout Italy, from Roman Antiquity to the Renaissance to Modern Architecture, is incredible. While in Italy, I will be taking the New Testament course. As a student of Ancient Greek, I have had the opportunity to translate several sections of the New Testament.  I understand what the words mean in Ancient Greek and what they best translate as, but the chance to explore the English meaning and interpretations will provide me with a more holistic and increased understanding of the New Testament. Once again, I am endlessly grateful for the generosity of the Arizona in Orvieto Award Committee and its wonderful donors. I am incredibly excited about this study-abroad opportunity and hope to live up to the Classics department's expectations while representing the University of Arizona abroad."