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by Samuel Miller '17

Marina Lorenzini, class of 2016, was a polished and driven figure on campus, with an incredible ability for languages. In fact, she was my freshman class’s Italian 100 mentor and I remember us all struggling to get through those early Wednesday morning sessions, trying to match her perfect pronunciation. She continued to be a powerful example throughout our shared Art History and History classes, and when she graduated in 2016 with a major in Art History & Visual Communication and minors in History & Italian Studies, classroom discussions lost an articulate and learned voice.

Many alumni will tell you that Franklin is what you make of it, and Marina is no exception. Both at Franklin and today in her current graduate program, Marina is a master of making the absolute most out of every opportunity she can, and as a result can boast an impressive list of international accomplishments, certificates, and language proficiencies.

As someone who is clearly passionate about other cultures and has such a talent for languages, Franklin was a natural choice for Marina thanks to “its international student body, environment, and Academic Travel program.” (Prof. Hale's Iceland travel was a particular highlight) But Franklin was hardly her first foray abroad. “My father's family lives in Tuscany and I frequently travelled to Italy before Franklin. So, the context of Lugano gave me a taste of the familiar as well as the opportunity to explore new territory and languages.”

When asked what advice she would give to incoming Frankliners, Marina suggests “students should be proactive in finding summer internships and working with professors or the administration during the school year. This will build up your resume with concrete skills and demonstrate competency in certain academic interests, all of which is vital when it’s time to look for jobs after graduation.”

Marina certainly speaks from personal experience, having been heavily involved both on campus and in the local Lugano community. While attending Franklin, Marina took advantage of every resource and connection the university and her professors had to offer. That’s a habit she continues today; if anything, her agenda now is even more packed with world-class educational and professional experiences than ever before. But it was one of those early Franklin positions in particular that turned out to be an important building block in her career.

"For me, the most meaningful extracurricular experience while at Franklin was being a part of the TedxLugano organizing team in 2014 and 2016. For six months prior to the conference, I served as a Sales Manager to solicit applications and then worked with our participants on the logistics of attending the weekend's events, which were hosted on campus. This experience exposed me to best practices in a professional environment, and I was able to work with seasoned full-time professionals across various sectors in Switzerland.”

Since graduating, Marina has laid an impressive foundation for her career. Right after graduation, thanks to a grant from Franklin’s Green Leaves Fund, Marina moved to Amman, Jordan to continue studying Arabic at the Qasid Institute, an experience that cemented her enthusiasm for the language.

While communicating their unique university experience is a skill every Franklin student learns at some point, Marina is particularly adept at turning her experiences and language skills into opportunities. But in addition to taking advantage of all the activities and possibilities around Franklin and Lugano, it was a particular professor, vice president and dean of academic affairs Sara Steinert Borella, who directly provided Marina with one of the opportunities that she says helped get her where she is today.

“Dean SSB was critical. We were able to schedule a time to talk on Skype right after graduation in June of 2016. We discussed my Franklin experience and the job search that lay ahead. After that call, she was the one that sent me the application for the AUI Presidential Internship. I was in Jordan at the time and within a few weeks, after a few interviews with AUI leadership, I was on a plane to Morocco! That first job after you graduate is so critical and it has had a snowball effect ever since! That position was a significant contribution to my graduate school application, and I truly credit so much of my current academic interests and success to that AUI position.”

In August of 2016, thanks to that recommendation from Dean SSB, Marina moved to Ifrane, Morocco, to work for Dr. Driss Ouaouicha, the president of Al Akhawayn University, as part of AUI’s inaugural Presidential Internship Program cohort. Dr. Ouaouicha, incidentally, was appointed Deputy Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research in October 2019. From August 2016 through June 2017 Marina contributed to AUI's application for American accreditation through NECHE, which the school achieved in Nov. 2017. Since Marina’s time there, other Franklin alumni have been accepted into the same program, including Nanuka Chachibaia (2017 - 2018 cohort), Sara Stokes (2017 - 2018 cohort), Jessica Borgert (2018 - 2019 cohort), and Sarina Leon (2018 - 2019 cohort).

After AUI, Marina started a position as the Communications and Development Manager at the American Middle East Institute, a job that put her international and travel experience to good use. “We facilitated bilateral business relationships between US companies and governments, sovereign wealth funds, and private companies across the Middle East and North Africa. We also hosted delegations from Egypt, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and I even led business delegations to Cairo in June 2018 and to Dubai in October 2018 that focused on the applications of AI in the healthcare and advanced manufacturing sectors.”

In the fall of 2017, Marina returned to her home town to spend a year completing an Arabic Language and Linguistics Certificate at the University of Pittsburgh, which she had started during her time at AMEI. During that time, Marina also joined Franklin's Alumni Council, where she continues to chair the Career Services Committee, which distributes a newsletter to students with entry-level job opportunities, scholarships, and internships. “We also mentor students on their resumes and cover letters- for those that get in contact with us!”

Today, Marina is Boston, studying for her M.A. in Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, and is pursuing concentrations in International Negotiation & Conflict Resolution as well as Southwest Asian & Islamic Civilization. As usual, Marina is taking advantage of every possible opportunity. “In addition to my coursework, I am a Research Associate at Fletcher's Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies. Within this program, I also cross-register into courses at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the Harvard Law School. These courses will form one fourth of my degree program. My research focuses on disarmament, sanctions, and US policy in the Middle East, and I recently published an article on US sanctions against Iran in Lawfare, an online magazine under the Brookings Institution.”

Even a global pandemic hasn’t stopped Marina from making good use of her ‘down-time’ between semesters. “Aside from preparing for several leadership roles that I will hold on campus next year, I have held two research positions over the past few months. I am a Research Assistant in the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School, where I have been working with Prof. Bonnie Docherty to research challenges for civil protection in times of armed conflict. I am also serving as Research Fellow with the OSCE, where I have been writing a policy paper on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that will be presented to Minsk Group state parties.”

And as if all that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she adds, “I am also studying Persian.”

If you’re a student who’s interested in talking with Marina and the Career Services Committee, just message her on LinkedIn.