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Vision for Language, Business and Culture Leads to New BA

Major teaches cultural differences and diversity, language skills and an understanding of how to do business in global markets

Posted in: University

Natalie Yavorski
An internship with an Italian eyewear company has helped Natalie Yavorski ’19 clearly see how she can combine her passions in art and language into a career.

Look out, world: Montclair State University is preparing students with vision to live, work and succeed in global markets.

They’re students like Janica Pierre, a junior who speaks French, enjoys culture and is studying accounting. Beginning this fall, she has added a second major, the new BA in Language, Business and Culture. “I’ll see where this leads me,” she says, “maybe in five years, living and translating documents in France.”

Language, Business and Culture combines intensive language and culture study (a choice of Arabic, French, German, Italian or Spanish) with fundamental business skills to prepare students for careers here and abroad.

“This degree prepares a future generation of managers for a new Renaissance where language, sense of belonging and social support will lead the business,” says Alberto Milani, president of the Italy America Chamber of Commerce, who attended a launch of the program last spring.

Gladys Riccardi, Janica Pierre and Adriana Morsella, among the first students in the new BA in Language, Business and Culture, meet with the program’s director, Enza Antenos.
Gladys Riccardi, Janica Pierre and Adriana Morsella, among the first students in the new BA in Language, Business and Culture, meet with the program’s director, Enza Antenos.

Gladys Riccardi, who speaks Spanish, and Adriana Morsella, who studies Italian, are among the students in the first cohort, both drawn to the program after exploring options in business and world language last year as University College pre-major/undecided students. “This is a good combination of everything I’m seeking,” Morsella says.

Montclair State is one of just two public universities in the Northeast offering the program, and the only one in New Jersey. It formalizes into a degree program the ways Montclair State has blended business practices with socio-cultural knowledge and strong language skills, says Enza Antenos, professor of Italian with Modern Languages and Literatures, and program director of Language, Business and Culture.

“In class, the use of real-life examples, the amazing opportunity to learn about international business abroad, and the emphasis on acceptance, immersion and learning drove home the essence of global marketing,” says Talia Antonacci ’19, who graduated with a major in Italian and minor in Business.

Sights Set High

Recent Montclair State graduates like Antonacci who speak a second language and also understand cultural differences and diversity have landed dream jobs, Antenos says.

Bobby Nelson ’15 credits his degrees in Business Administration and a world language for helping him launch his career. Nelson studied German and works with the online mattress startup Casper, where his fluency and business skills assisted in the company’s expansion.

“It’s not just how to translate words,” Nelson says. “Language is a whole different way to see life; it’s a whole different way to live.” 

Natalie Yavorski ’19 draws on her BFA in Fine Arts/Studio and a minor in Italian while working in product creation for Safilo, an Italian eyewear creator and distributor in Secaucus. “When you learn how to speak a different language, you’re also learning about the culture of that language because they go hand in hand,” she says.

During a recent visit to her workplace, Yavorski was sorting eye frames by color and design in the acetate library she created for the company. “I’m not entirely sure if I imagined that my minor would lead to a career path,” she says. “I definitely hoped that I would be able to keep Italian a big part of my life because I’m so passionate about it.”

International Experience

Language, Business and Culture combines international business skills in accounting, economics, finance, technology and cross-cultural business communications with intensive language and culture study.

It will unify a student’s preexisting knowledge of the products of a culture and their presence in the global marketplace, to the language and cultural background that is communicated by these products, bridging the preexisting tangible goods of a nation to the cultural know-how and excellence that creates them, Antenos says. International experience will provide students direct contact with the professional world before graduating.

The program has secured nearly $30,000 in scholarships, and a number of government agencies are prepared to work with the students through internship opportunities.

Those connections propelled Antonacci into a position as marketing coordinator for Choose New Jersey, an economic development organization.

“Thanks to my Italian culture and business courses, taken both at Montclair State and in Italy,” Antonacci says, “I’ve learned about the global market, its significance, and how to identify and utilize cultural differences to your advantage in order to market practically, and provide the consumer with the best product.”

As a student, Antonacci held internships supported by a $5,000 Lawrence R. Inserra Jr. Scholarship administered by the Inserra Chair, Teresa Fiore, and the Montclair State University Foundation. Opportunities included working with teams at the Italian Trade Agency, the commercial branch of the Italian Consulate in New York, as well as Choose New Jersey.

The Inserra paid internship program in Italian Business rests on the generosity of the Italian program’s main donor, solid partnerships with Italian and New Jersey agencies, and an interdisciplinary vision that combines Italian and business as part of the internationalization of the student experience,” says Fiore.

“When I proposed the program to Mr. Inserra, my dream was to see an internship turn into a permanent job for our students, but I never thought it would happen only two years into the program,” Fiore says. “It is a pleasure for me to design, arrange and implement these internships for our students and I look forward to more successful stories like Talia’s.”

— Story by Marilyn Lehren