Gloria Friedgen, a fifth-generation Italian American, is a wonderful classmate to have, especially when it comes to good food and good energy.
“I’ll bring pasta sometimes,” laughs Friedgen, a former high school biology teacher and adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland (where her husband was head football coach), who has been auditing CofC Italian studies classes. “I’ve been in the classroom setting for a long time, but it never gets old. It’s just fun being in a class, being around young people and being exposed to their energy.”
According to Mike Maher, it’s Friedgen’s energy that is so refreshing.
“She is a super great influence,” says the assistant professor in the Department of French, Francophone, and Italian Studies. “She brings the energy up and is always ready to go.”
“She brings a different perspective and a lot of knowledge about language and culture,” says Kelsey Baum ’19, a communication major and Italian studies minor. “I’ve learned from her how much more you can learn when you aren’t just doing it for the grade.”
“It’s such a good department,” says Friedgen. “The temperament of the teachers is conducive to learning and to expression, so I was moved to support this program.”
And so she and her husband, Ralph, created the Friedgen Family Italian Study Abroad Endowed Scholarship, which is awarded to rising juniors or seniors who minor in Italian studies and wish to study abroad in Italy.
“I think everyone should get to experience the world, and I know that you have to be in a place – immersed in the culture, the traditions, the people and the food – to really appreciate it,” she says. “I hope this helps expose students to that.”
It certainly did so for Baum, one of the first three recipients awarded the scholarship in May 2018. She traveled to the coastal town of Sorrento as part of a CofC study abroad in 2018. – Alicia Lutz ’98