Italian Studies minor Grace Montgomery ’22, was recently awarded the prestigious 2020 Casola Prize from the Patrons of Italian Culture (PIC), a scholarship that provides financial support to outstanding students in the study of Italian language and culture at the university level.

Montgomery’s submission letter outlined her journey with the Italian culture, including her hopes and goals for her future with the Italian language.

When she received an email over the summer, informing her that she had been awarded the Casola Prize, she was shocked.

“I was very excited to learn that I had been recognized and awarded the scholarship. In the future, I hope to find a career in which I can combine my passion for Italian with my degree in Business Finance, by working in the finance department of an American branch of an Italian firm.”

Chapman’s Director of Italian Studies, Federico Pacchioni, describes Montgomery as an outstanding, one-of-a-kind student and a pleasure to have in his program. “[She] exemplifies intellectual maturity and professional trustworthiness. Her level of productivity is truly outstanding.”

Grace Montgomery '22

2020 Casola Prize recipient, Grace Montgomery (’22, Italian Studies minor).

Montgomery is majoring in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance and is minoring in Business Analytics and Italian Studies, and if that isn’t enough on her plate, she is currently serving as the President of the Italian Club at Chapman.

“From the moment I met Grace in my Italian 101 class, I knew she would become one of the stars of our Italian Studies program,” said Assistant Professor of Italian, Francesca Paduano. “I can certainly say Grace Montgomery is one of the best students I have ever met in my academic career. She is a true inspiration to our students.”

This wasn’t Montgomery’s first time applying for the award. In Spring 2019, she submitted an application for the scholarship, but did not receive it. However, with the encouragement of the President of PIC, Paolo Romano, she decided to give it another shot.

According to Romano, PIC was first organized to help American soldiers returning to the states with their Italian brides and find homes for Italian orphans during World War II. By the late 50s, the mission changed and began sponsoring extensive programs and activities emphasizing the Italian culture and heritage.

Albert J. Casola was a supporter of PIC and upon his death in 2010, an endowment was established in his honor to the organization that proposed establishing the Casola Prize in his memory.

Since then, PIC has received hundreds of submissions from applicants hoping for a chance to be awarded the Casola Prize. “[We have received] applications from all over the USA, from amazing college students of Italian descent,” said Romano. “We have awarded more than $24,000 in scholarships.”