Grad Student Gives Back to UConn
By Val Merriman
Michael Farina graduated cum laude from UConn in 1998. An honors scholar and a philosophy major, he became interested in the classics while studying in Florence, where he developed a passion for Italian literature and culture. After completing his master's degree requirements, he followed his heart back to Italy, where for a year he taught at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies for Duke University.
When he returned to Storrs, Farina was nearing completion of his course work for a doctorate in modern and classical languages in fall 2001 when he read an article in the Advance that captured his imagination. The story was about a pledge made by Rebecca Lobo '95 and her mother RuthAnn, to establish a scholarship in the School of Allied Health.
Within weeks, Farina decided to make his own commitment to establish, in honor of his grandparents, the Farina Family Scholarship in Italian Literature and Culture in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "I want to give something back, and this seemed an ideal way to accomplish that objective," he explains.
Citing an increase in the number of UConn students majoring in Italian, he says, "UConn's Italian literature program has become significantly stronger in recent years, and I would like to help it continue to advance in whatever way I can."
His $25,000 gift to the endowment will help strengthen the University's Italian language and culture programs and will contribute to UConn's fund-raising campaign. The impact of his gift will be maximized through the state matching endowment gift program.
Although he received his undergraduate degree barely three years earlier and was still a student, Farina says it was a good time for him to make a gift to the University. He had not yet assumed the level of financial commitments of many young adults who have mortgage payments, families, or business start-up expenses. He calculated that it was financially realistic to fulfill his pledge over five years.
He says the teachings of philosophers of the classical and Hellenistic age are a source of inspiration. "The concepts of fides, and pietas, or self-sacrifice and dedication to family and state, really resonate with me - the belief that things should be left better by us than when we found them," he says.
"There's a saying in Rome: 'I did not dig the well from which I drink'," he adds. With his pledge, Farina has tapped into a spring that promises to deepen the well.