Meet our 2022-23 Italian Studies Scholarship Recipients

Top (left to right): Abigail Olguin-Serna, AnnMarie Kornele, Audra Burwell and Kathy Franco. Bottom row (left to right): Monica King, Nayeli Guerrero, Regina Rivera and Valerie Kurylo.

We proudly present some of this year’s Italian Studies scholarship recipients. Your support plays a direct role in ensuring these students’ success. As they graduate and find their place in the community, they are destined to elevate our lives and become an inspiration for life.

Regina Rivera

  • Pre-Health-Nursing, B.S.
  • Italian Studies, Minor
Regina Rivera in front of a tree-filled background.

Regina Rivera is a third-year scholar with the Smittcamp Family Honors College, majoring in Pre-Health with an emphasis in Nursing and minoring in Italian Studies. She is starting the nursing program at Fresno State in Spring 2023 to work towards her dream of becoming a registered nurse. In her career, she hopes to become a traveling nurse so she can explore all the wonders that the world has to offer while providing care for people in need.

While taking classes for my Italian Studies minor here at Fresno State, my love for Italian food, cinema, history, and culture has immensely deepened and increased my desire to explore the world. I am so thankful for your generosity and kindness, for it has allowed me the opportunity to broaden my horizons and embrace my potential as a student and overall person. I cannot wait for the day that I can put all these years of Italian studies to use in such a beautiful country as Italy. Grazie mille!

Abigail Olguin-Serna

  • Biology – Clinical Laboratory Science Emphasis, B.S.
  • Chemistry, Minor
  • Italian Studies [pending], Minor
Abigail Olguin-Serna headshot

Abigail Olguin-Serna is a senior at Fresno State, majoring in Biology with minors in chemistry and Italian studies. She is pursuing a career as a clinical laboratory scientist, aiding physicians and healthcare professionals with the analysis and processing of body specimens for diagnostic purposes.

I am truly grateful for having received the Italian Studies Award. I’ve always been interested in Italian culture, in particular its art, cuisine, architecture, and historical roots. This opportunity has only fueled this interest even more, and I hope to apply my knowledge and intercultural skills when I visit Italy in the near future. Thank you so much to the donors of the Italian Studies program and especially towards Ms. Elena Sharafutdinova and Dr. Andrea Polegato for their hard work and support!

Kathy Franco

  • Business Administration- Computer Information System, B.S.
  • Spanish, Minor
Kathy Franco headshot

Kathy Franco is a senior at Fresno State, majoring in Business Administration with an emphasis in Computer Information Systems and a minor in Spanish. She is actively involved on campus by having participated in the Homecoming Committee, Vintage Days, and currently with the Off-Campus Student Life Program. She also happily works at DISCOVERe.

I decided to take Italian 160T- Food and Film Culture this past summer because I love food and enjoy learning about it. I was even more excited to take it when the Italian Studies scholarship was available to apply for. That way, I wouldn’t miss out on this opportunity due to costs. After I completed this course, I was left appreciative of learning about another culture other than my own, which led me to take another Italian course this fall. I also hope to pursue an Italian minor. I am absolutely grateful for your generosity, and it is your generosity that makes these opportunities possible. I believe these opportunities and experiences will allow students like myself to have an enriching view of the world.

Nayeli Guerrero

  • English- Creative Writing, B.A.
  • Italian Studies, Minor
Nayeli Guerrero sits at a roadside restaurant dining area.

Nayeli Guerrero is a senior at Fresno State, majoring in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing and minoring in Italian Studies. Upon completion of her bachelor’s degree, Nayeli plans to obtain her master’s in Rhetoric and Writing Studies along with teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). She hopes to teach English around the world.

I am absolutely touched by the generosity of the many donors supporting Italian Studies at Fresno State. With this generous award, I am able to continue pursuing my educational endeavors to teach our future generations. Not only did the Italian Studies Award provide me with much-needed financial support, but it also encouraged me to work ferociously towards my degrees to then be able to give back myself and support future students. Thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart.

Audra Burwell

  • English- Creative Writing
Audra Burwell on a balcony at an oceanside hotel.

Audra Burwell is a creative writing major with a strong emphasis on fantasy-themed poetry and fiction that covers universal subject matter. Her work has been published by Palaver Journal, Deep Overstock, Carcinogenic Poetry, Serpentine Zine Literary Magazine, and Superpresent Magazine, as well as appearing on the Do Fiction Podcast. She studies at Fresno State, where she is aiming for a Master of Fine Arts degree. She is currently employed by Fresno State’s Kremen Department as a Communications Assistant, where she designs articles, media advisories, website content, press releases, and flyers that advocate for numerous college programs and that promote the student body on campus. She also simultaneously works for A Book Barn in Old Town Clovis and for their sub-business, HBE Publishing, where she has held a position for over six years. There, she performs various tasks, including clerical responsibilities, social media administration, inventory management, book design, editing, and event planning. Some of Audra’s hobbies include archery, photography, snowboarding, skydiving, horseback riding, cosplaying, and traveling. 

I would like to thank all of the donors involved with the dispersal of the Italian Study [award]. It has enabled me to further my studies in an area that has greatly benefitted my degree and allowed me to become more academically well-rounded.

Monica King

  • Business Administration, Accountancy, B.S.
  • Italian Studies, Minor
Monica King headshot

Monica King is a senior at Fresno State, majoring in Business Administration with an option in Accountancy and a minor in Italian Studies. Monica is fascinated by Italian culture, its people, and its history. Now that her dream of becoming a CPA is getting close, she can look forward to her second goal, which is speaking Italian.

I want to thank the [College] of Arts and Humanities for giving me the opportunity to study Italian this summer through the Italian studies scholarship program. It was a joy to study Italian without thinking about the cost of doing so. Thanks to the scholarship, I was able to focus on the class and not get discouraged about how this expense would impact my finances. Thank you again for the opportunity granted to me.

Valerie Kurylo

  • Kinesiology – Exercise Science, B.S.
Valerie Kurylo wears a backpack on a hike.

Valerie Kurylo is a sophomore at Fresno State, majoring in Kinesiology with an option in Exercise Science. Valerie is also a member of the Fresno State Bulldog Marching Band. Upon completion of her bachelor’s degree, she plans to go to school for Physical Therapy.

I have always been fascinated with Italian culture, from the music to the food and the art! I am so thankful for this scholarship as it will help me gain a deeper understanding of the culture, whether it is taking more classes or taking a trip there myself. Thank you so much! Grazie!” 

AnnMarie Kornele

  • Media, Communications​ ​and Journalism- Advertising and Public Relations, B.A.
AnnMarie Kornele in front of green trees and plants.

AnnMarie Kornele is a junior at Fresno State, majoring in Media, Communication and Journalism with an option in Advertising and Public Relations. She believes learning about other cultures and perspectives is essential in our increasingly globalized world and is especially important to her future career in the media communication field.

Receiving the Italian Studies award was an opportunity that I will always remember and be grateful for. Thanks to the generosity of the Italian Studies donors, I can continue to pursue my interests and gain valuable intercultural communication skills while finishing my education here at Fresno State.


Several additional award recipients preferred not to be named.

If you are interested in creating a scholarship for the Italian Studies Program, please contact Moon-Ja Yunouye at 559-278-8341.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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