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Staff Spotlight: Alexandra Massini, PH.D, Academic Director – Rome

May 10, 2022
by CEA CAPA Staff
Alexandra serves as an academic leader for faculty and students and provides oversight for academic integrity, program and course design, faculty hiring, training and assessment, and university relations. A faculty member since the opening of the Rome campus in 2008, she also teaches History of Art and Archaeology. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Warwick, BA and MA degrees with Double Distinction from the Courtauld Institute of Art, as well as a Diploma from the Study Centre for the History of the Fine and Decorative Arts. Alexandra’s international background makes her a firm believer of global education. To her students and her children (who are Mexican/Italian), she hopes to transmit the tools to ‘think outside the box,’ broaden their horizons, and become aware of the globalized world they live in.

What is your academic area of focus and/or interest?

My academic area is art history which I love and have been teaching for 20 years. 

What is your professional background?

I have covered about 15 different positions throughout my career, from acting as a simultaneous interpreter at conferences or as a dialogue coach on movie sets to touring Italy and writing a guidebook to working for Sotheby’s Auctioneers in Rome and London. I then moved on to the Thyssen Museum in Madrid, conducting research and ghostwriting, writing exhibition reviews, proofreading for fellow Ph.D. students, organizing events, acting as a specialized tour guide, teaching, etc. Of course, I first started earning as a babysitter and a shop assistant in a children’s store, and believe it or not, I also was a trekking guide throughout my 20’s!

How long have you worked for CEA? What roles have you held?

I have been at CEA for 14 years, initially as an instructor of art history and then, for the past 8 years, also as an Academic Director based in Rome. 

What is unique about the academic programs in your CEA Study Center?

What’s unique? Us and our passion! The teachers, the staff, and the city of Rome! And of course, the immersive learning opportunities--you cannot beat seeing a Caravaggio painting inside a church, in its original setting, or touching the very ground where the Roman emperors walked 2000 years ago.

What do you think most of your colleagues are surprised to learn about you?

Most surprising might be my weekend activities as a guide, which I don’t really talk about unless I happen to end up on TV by the Trevi fountain! Most of the US-based staff were shocked to hear I also help lead the G20’s - a gathering of the world’s top 20 economies. I love telling (hi)stories and illustrating art with my students during class and then on weekends with some interesting personalities (such as the G20 representatives, Ursula von der Leyen, the Royals of Britain and Belgium, Emily Frick, Pierce Brosnan, Mr. Arnault (LVMH), and several others whose identities I might get informed about only the evening prior).

What do you think the future holds for the field of study abroad?

It is increasingly essential to have a meaningful experience that goes beyond casual travel exposure. Being in a different country, meeting a different culture and people, and learning about different ways of life help broaden our horizons and make us become better people. Awareness and independence, self-reliance and confidence, as well as curiosity and open-mindedness are all part of the ‘benefits package’ that comes along with studying abroad. Pandemics and war may bring us to a temporary halt, but we’ll always want to get out there and see our wonderful world and learn from our peers.

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