Two CSI alumnae have each received $1,000 grants from the Italian American Women of Staten Island (IAW) at the organization’s recent luncheon. Paola Tranchina Gambino ’12 and Stephany Di Gesaro ’12 teach at Wagner High School. Tranchina Gambino is also an adjunct at CSI. Both women were among the first graduates of the Italian Studies major at the College.

Regarding this year’s awards, IAW spokesperson Audrey LoPresti explained, “We give scholarships to two deserving high school Italian students as well as grants to two women who either teach Italian or keep the culture alive. We put out a flyer in the Staten Island Advance looking for women who are interested in applying for our grants. We also find people through word of mouth. Most of us are former teachers all over the Island, so we ask around and principals nominate them! The funds can be used toward books, programs, music, crafts…really anything that promotes Italian heritage. These awards are important to keep the Italian culture alive on Staten Island.” 

Commenting on her grant and her experience in the Italian Studies major, Di Gesaro said, “I am very grateful for being recognized for my work in educating others about my Italian culture. I want our community to know that there still are people that care to share our Italian traditions.  As a first-generation Italian American, I am proud to have been a part of the CSI Italian program…The program helped shape me as an Italian teacher. As a student who attended high school in Italy, the program made me feel like I was part of a family. I have now been teaching Italian for 12 years and my passion for spreading my love continues to grow in different places like Wagner High school and Casa Belvedere.”

Tranchina Gambino noted, “I feel incredibly honored to receive the award. Receiving this award is a reflection of the hard work and dedication that myself and my colleagues have put into the continued proliferation of the Italian language in the public school setting. As an Italian American woman, it brings me great pride to see the contributions we make be recognized.”

As for her time at CSI, she added, “My experience at the College has impacted my career in multiple ways. As an alumna of the Italian program, the skills I learned at the College were instrumental in my career as an educator in the public school system. The education I received prepared me to be successful in the classroom and for that I am eternally grateful. As a CSI adjunct, I am incredibly proud to be part of such a wonderful department that takes pride in educating others in our languages and supporting the next generation to become part of a global world. The support of the College and my colleagues were instrumental in my path to obtaining this award.”

The mission of IAW is to provide positive images of Italian American Women and to promote and support Italian culture through education in the community. Members enjoy being a part of a growing community of like-minded Italian Americans on Staten Island. The organization conducts charitable work and contributes to many organizations such as the Huguenot Library’s Italian Language Club, the Garibaldi Meucci Museum, the St. George Theatre, the Wounded Warrior Project, the Seamen’s Society for Children and Families, Toys for Tots, and many more.

Photo caption: L-R: Stephany Di Gesaro ’12 and Paola Tranchina Gambino ’12

Photo credit: Daniel Barranco

By Terry Mares