Patrick Sgueglia Undergraduate Student
Wherever he may Rome: Student embraces Italian heritage By Laura Sutton International Studies senior Patrick Sgueglia (pronounced Skwail-ya) has a way with Italian words. He can take a common one like spaghetti and pronounce it in such a way that the listener’s mind is immediately transported to a gondola or an outdoor café near the Pantheon. Sgueglia’s talent for speaking Italian is not surprising – his father’s side of the family is from Caserta, a provincial capital near Naples in southern Italy, and he claims dual citizenship. Growing up, he visited his Italian cousins frequently, thanks to his father, James (Biology, ‘80), an airline pilot. But he also has Kentucky roots. His mother, Michelle (HES, ‘80), is a Lexington native, and his parents met as students at UK. Sgueglia arrived at UK in 2005 as a Legacy Scholar with an interest in international affairs and business. Although he’d never studied Italian, it became part of his course of study the moment professor Gloria Allaire, head of the Italian Program, discovered his perfect pronunciation. For Sgueglia, studying Italian provided a way to integrate his love of travel, his interest in business and his passion for politics and history. It opened the door to a summer internship with PreGel, an Italian-owned company in Charlotte, N.C., that imports gelato and raw pastry ingredients. At UK, he got a taste of academic administration when he served as the only student representative on an Arts and Sciences committee charged with exploring and ultimately creating the new International Studies major. Sgueglia spent his junior year attending John Cabot University in Rome. There, he took a full load of classes, studying European Union politics, Italian history and Russian government, and shared an apartment with Giuseppe, a friend of one of his Italian cousins. Living as the Romans do – shopping for dinner in the market, hanging out with Giuseppe and his friends, visiting Naples on the weekends, attending soccer games – enabled Sgueglia to truly master the language and watch first-hand as events he had been studying played out. While he was in Rome, the Italian government collapsed and new elections were held, he helped a friend’s father campaign for a seat in the Italian Parliament (he marvels at the 30 different political parties in Italy) and lived the near-epic soccer, or calcio, rivalry between the Naples and Rome teams. He knew he had really mastered the culture when he could translate Italian political graffiti. “It’s so neat to see how all this stuff ties in,” he says. Sgueglia is fascinated by Italy’s regional character, a remnant of a time when the country was comprised of around 10 separate kingdoms, each with a unique dialect. “I can hear someone speak and I can immediately tell where they are from,” he says with pride. Now back at UK for his final year, Sgueglia is taking electives, including an independent study course on post-unification Italy, planning for a visit from Guiseppe, staying in touch with Roman friends via Skype and thinking about his future. Like many gifted students, he is anxious to begin a career, but will likely continue his studies through the TransAtlantic Masters Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which appeals to his practical side as well as his desire for continued study abroad.