Language House Italian Cluster

Italian Cluster Alumni

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Messages from Italian Cluster Alumni

Krista Babyak
(Italian Cluster, graduated 2013)


I'm an independent manufacturer's representative currently selling emdical and surgical equipment in MD and Washington, DC. I work for Welch Allyn, 3M, Covidien, ZOLL, NDD, Health-O-Meter, and a slew of other high-end medical equipment manufacturers. I mainly sell capital equipment like cardiopulmonary (EKG, Stress, Holter, ABPM) spiro, and diagnostic/vitals hardware, but could outfit an entire doctor's office or surgery center with all the equipment I keep in my care. Attached is a photo of me working with some folks from the Pentagon. The government and DOD is a BIG customer of mine! (11-16-2015)


Christine Shedd-Thompson
(Italian Cluster, graduated 2010)
Since I graduated I have been all over the place! I spent the summer working with high schoolers in Florence, then I spent the next year teaching English to middle schoolers in Aix-les-Bains, France. After that, I came back to America and worked for the same summer program at their UC Berkeley location. Last fall, I headed to Klagenfurt, Austria to teach English again, this time to high schoolers. This past summer I returned for my third summer with the same program for high schoolers, this time at University of Oxford in England. I'm about to take off again, back to Austria for my second year of teaching there - I'm in Vienna this time! (10-16-12)

Eugene Vassilas
(Italian Cluster, graduated 2010)

Although I am an ocean away from my old room at the Language House, the life lessons and friendships born there are with me still over here.

After having spent the winter in Brazil shooting film and training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I am currently in Copenhagen, Denmark attending Copenhagen Business School for a Masters degree in Language, Business and Culture with a specialization in Leadership and Management. I've continued expanding my film business all the while, (geniofilms. com or which focuses on blending a unique form of visual storytelling found only in my subconscious. I've done interviews with Robert Dilts, (, Steven Gilligan ( and about 300 others, and in the process also continued educating myself in NLP(neuro linguistic programming) and meditation therapies. (I am now a certified Intergrative Coach with a focus on Constellation work see ( and am working on delving into generative trance therapies.) (09-2-12)



Cristina Sciuto
(Italian Cluster,graduated 2010)


Cristina greeted from Moshi, Tanzania, where she teaches 20 hours a week-some religion and twelve hours of public speaking and study skills. She also helps out with the community service club. The first picture was taken with her fellow teachers and the other one of her eating ugali and mboga (green peas, bok choi type greens and carrots that are seasoned) with her hands. (2-20-2012)



Gabrielle Stranieri
(Mentor, Italian Cluster, graduated 2010)

I am writing from Castellammare di Stabia, a small town outside of Naples, Italy. I am here working for the summer at an Italian institution that is restoring nearby ancient Roman villas that were destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius. I am one of two people on staff here who speak English, so needless to say I am using my Italian skills everyday! Here is a photo of me on Ischia, a beautiful island off the Gulf of Naples. (07-23-10)



Stephnie Petillo
(Italian Cluster,graduated 2008)


I got married within the last two weeks and work (as a grad student) at MIT. The photo shows me and my husband overlooking the Cinque Terre in Italy after a day hike.I am currently in my fourth year of working on my PhD in Ocean Engineering in a joint program between MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. -- In this time, I have traveled to Italy 4 times with my lab group from MIT to work with the NATO Undersea Research Centre in La Spezia, Italy, and do research with our underwater vehicles from ships off the Italian coast. Being in Italy for nearly a month each year has been a great opportunity for me to keep up my Italian language skills in everyday and technical/work situations. Thanks to living in the language house for 3 years, I've actually been quite comfortable communicating with locals in most situations the Italians have thrown at me! I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. In other news, I just got married 2 weeks ago! My husband is also a PhD student in my lab at MIT, and has picked up enough bits of Italian to get around there quite well over the past 4 years of travel with our lab, which makes it that much more fun when we get to travel to Italy! Mille grazie and all the best, Stephanie Petillo (09-23-11)



Jessica Mealey
(Italian Cluster, graduated 2008)

Jessica is currently teaching Spanish at Bowie High School and will be taking a course this summer to teach college level AP Spanish 5 next year. She has a trip planned to Peru in December 2010 and will be going to Madrid, Spain in Summer 2011. She has also started working with E-commerce company as a Business Development Officer helping people achieve their goals and develop their own independent business. (04-27-10)

Jessica teaches Spanish at Bowie High School in Bowie, Maryland and is encouraging her students to apply to Maryland and enter the Language Immersion Program. :) She finished her M.Ed. at the University of Maryland over the summer of 2009 and currently lives in College Park. She spent part of the summer in Puerto Rico with another Language House alumna and is making plans for her second trip to Peru and to go to El Salvador with yet another LH alumna. Jessica will be walking at the Fall 2009 Commencement for her Graduate degree and hopes to see other Language House students there! (09-16-09)



Laura Ferry Hui
(Italian Cluster, graduated 2007)
I'm currently attending Johns Hopkins University, graduating with my Master of Arts in Teaching. I work in Howard County in a culturally diverse 3rd grade classroom, and I'm using the knowledge I gained from the language house daily.My husband of 16 months is from Hong Kong and his family does everything in Cantonese.I'm looking forward to having the time to take my own chinese classes, and almost wish I'd studied it instead of Italian in college! I'm sure that I never would have been so attracted to a multi-cultural relationship had it not been for the LH experience. Thanks for that too!I can't say enough good things about the LH program, keep up the good work! (04-22-11)


Victoria Wisniewski 
(Mentor, Italian Cluster, graduated 2006)


 I am working with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN HABITAT) here in Kuwait until April.  In March, I will attend the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro.  After April, I am moving to Madrid to be based out of there but will continue to be a consultant for UN HABITAT.  I am very excited! (2-12-10)

 I am still in Kuwait, now working for the United Nations Programme for Human Settlements.  It's where I always wanted to work in the UN and I am really happy, we are working on bringing greater urban sustainability to the Arab region, and to making cities more liveable, in safety, inclusiveness and green spaces. (10-13-09)


Jennifer Norris 
(Italian Cluster, graduated 1993)

Jen Norris, nee Jen Bates lived in the Italian Cluster, '89-'93. I live in Arlington, VA with my husband, Mark, and our two dogs, Sporty and Barney. I earned my CPA in 1995 and am currently working as the Financial Controller for Blue Heron Capital, a start-up company that specializes in connecting high net worth families and individuals with unique global opportunities. On the weekends I'm often walking or hiking with Mark and the dogs, running, swimming, or biking. I also spend at least two weekend days per month helping homeless dogs find good homes through Lab Rescue or Lost Dog & Cat Rescue (10-1-08)