University of Wisconsin & Wisitalia join Forces To Bring Italian Language To Milwaukee Area High School Students


Contact: Elissa Ruffino (NIAF) 202/939-3106 or

(WASHINGTON, DC — April 30, 2003) WisItalia Inc., a non-profit statewide organization with the mission to promote the study of Italian language in Wisconsin public and private schools, has teamed with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s (UW-M) Department of French, Italian, and Comparative Literature to offer a first semester Italian class for high school students in Fall 2003.

The class, held on the UW-M campus through the university’s Off-Campus program, is open to area high school students. The course is made available through Wisconsin’s Youth Options program, which allows students to take classes at the university level if those courses are not offered by their high school. The first semester Italian class (508-103) will meet Monday through Thursday from 2 PM to 3 PM.

“Not only is Italian the world’s most important language culturally but it is the language of the world’s fifth largest economy and Italy is a staunch ally of the United States,” Al Rolandi, director of business development for Jabas Group, executive administrator of WisItalia Inc. and the Wisconsin state coordinator for the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) said. “Great job opportunities exist for those students that major in Italian,” Rolandi added.

“This Italian course marks the beginning of an exciting phase in the partnership between UW-M, WisItalia, area high schools, and the students we serve,” Robin Pickering-Iazzi, professor of Italian and Comparative Literature and Italian program coordinator said.

Students ranking in the top 10 percent of their class or in the upper 25 percent of the high school who have a minimum 3.5 grade point average in the area of desired study are eligible to apply for the Youth Options program and acceptance into UW-M. Students need to meet with their high school advisor, fill out the Youth Options application and a UW-M application. All Youth Options applications must be approved by the school district. Applications are forwarded by the high school to Jennifer Elsner/UW-M Youth Options in Enrollment Services, UW-M, POB 413, Milwaukee, Wis. 53201. Please include school transcripts, list of courses in progress, and Department of Public Instruction (DPI). Applications are valid for two semesters. Students can register for the course upon acceptance. Names of students are sent to the Bursar’s office and a system is set up to bill the school districts for the course. For more information, contact Jennifer Elsner at UW-M at 414-229-3159.

WisItalia Inc. a statewide organization with more than 600 members from nine Wisconsin cities and three universities, has succeeded in helping to launch Italian language programs at high schools in Milwaukee, Madison and Kenosha and has made donations of books focusing on Italian heritage and culture to numerous educational libraries. Visit the website at