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Cathy Summa-Wolfe
, Director
Communications & Community Relations
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COM Faculty Honored For 30 Years of Dedication to All Things Italian

Kentfield, CA—October 8, 2010—The founder of the College of Marin Italian studies program, Kathryn “Kathy” Freschi, was recognized today by the Cristoforo Colombo Club of Marin for her lifelong service to the Italian community.

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes Freschi’s pioneering work in the Italian community and her 30 years of commitment and passion for all things Italian, said long-time friend and colleague, Lido Cantarutti, a part-time Italian teacher at College of Marin who presented Freschi with the club honor at a luncheon at the San Rafael Community Center.

“Kathy sets a high quality teaching standard for all of us to follow,” Cantarutti said. “Her students consistently reflect solid learning achievement as they also come to share in her passion for all things Italian.  It has been a real pleasure to know her and to work with her.”

Freschi who has served as a dean of the non-credit Community Education and Services Program and chair of the Modern Languages Department, helped develop new disciplines of Japanese, Chinese and American Sign Language as well as launch the Study Abroad program on campus. Although not of Italian heritage she has devoted most of her life to studying the language and culture.  She remembers falling in love with Italian during her first exposure as a student at UC Berkeley.

“The experience of that class, loving the language, loving the sounds -- it became the impetus for my entire career,” Freschi said. “I had read The Agony and the Ecstasy and became interested in not only the art but the history. The joy of learning it made me forget learning anything else.”

She spent her junior year in college in Padua, Italy and graduated from UC Berkeley in 1968 with a major in Italian and a minor in French. She finished a master’s degree in Italian in 1970 and taught Italian at UC Santa Barbara before briefly joining the private sector, working for Banca di Roma in San Francisco during its first year of operation in San Francisco.

In 1978, after receiving a doctorate in higher education, she began working at College of Marin in administration while teaching Italian in the evenings at a time when the college only offered Italian for non credit. In 1987, she launched the Italian courses for credit program. It was one of the first Italian programs of its kind at a California community college where students traditionally focused on French and Spanish languages.

Since then, she has taught Italian language and culture to more than 3,000 students, many who satisfied foreign language transfer requirements with Italian and went on to earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees in Italian at universities. Currently, students enroll in five Italian courses each semester.  Her instruction includes all levels of grammar in Italian, as well as conversation and occasionally a short course in Italian literature or film. Recently an advanced Italian student commuted two hours from Patterson in the Central Valley.

“The award is especially meaningful at this time, as I will retire in December,” Freschi said.

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