News Archive

New Casa Italiana Director Joëlle Carota comes full circle from her time as Italian exchange student

Published September 26, 2022

Transformative experiences while studying at Nazareth College a decade ago as an exchange student from Italy attracted Joëlle Carota, Ph.D., back to campus as the new director of the Casa Italiana and a visiting assistant professor of Italian. Carota looks forward to connecting with Nazareth students and the Italian community of Rochester through the Casa, continuing vibrant programming and re-starting an oral history project with the Rochester Italian-American community in collaboration with the Center for Public History at Nazareth.

“When I studied at Nazareth in 2015, I was so positively impacted by the experience and my professors. They impacted my career, and I can never thank them enough,” said Carota. 

Carota first stepped onto the Nazareth campus in 2012 as an exchange student from Pescara for a semester of study. After earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Italy at the University "G. d'Annunzio" of Chieti-Pescara, she returned to Rochester in 2015 and worked at the Casa Italiana as an event coordinator and a tutor. “My study abroad experience was so positive, I came back to mentor other students who were coming over from Pescara to study at Nazareth, but the experience also got me thinking about teaching.” 

Carota applied to the University at Buffalo to begin her career path as a professor and earned a second master’s and a doctorate there while teaching Italian and Spanish all six years. She has extensive experience in foreign language teaching — formerly at SUNY Binghamton as language coordinator of lower-division French, Italian, and Spanish courses.

Her mentor at the Casa Italiana, Maria Rosaria Vitti-Alexander, retired last summer, and Carota realized it was the perfect opportunity to come back to a place she loved.

“I want to continue Maria’s legacy while adding my own little flavor,” said Carota.

Casa Italiana is known for its adult Italian classes, Wednesday movie nights, and monthly cooking classes. Carota loves those traditions, and she also plans to re-engage the Italian community in Rochester by re-starting an Italian-American oral history community effort that began in 2015 as a pilot project. 

“Rochester is one of the biggest Italian-American communities in upstate New York,” said Carota, “and this project can help document Italian and other Italo-Romance languages that are spoken in this area and how they have been maintained over the years. The project can be used by historians as well as by linguists, and the Casa Italiana can become a documentation center for the Italian community of Rochester.”

She also wants Nazareth students to know the Casa Italiana’s doors are open to all, regardless of major. “Students can reach out with any questions regarding majors, study abroad, teaching certifications, and more. Italian is very interdisciplinary in nature. It can be good for social workers, business, and history majors, or some students may even just want to know more about their Italian heritage.”

And, for any students wondering if study abroad is for them, Carota has simple advice: “Don’t be afraid of it. Studying abroad is life-changing.”


For More Information

Julie Long | Senior News & PR Officer | | (585) 389-2456 | (585) 781-8186 (cell)

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