Project Inspirations and Descriptions

Spring 2017 Kent State Florence Scholarship Contest

"I think the variety of topics speaks to the diverse interests of the students and the sheer vastness of possibilities available to them in Florence. While there can only be one winner of the scholarship prize, it is our hope that students found the process of planning, executing and presenting their work to be rewarding and useful. Regardless of outcome, we have a fascinating body of student work that I hope can be a starting point for even greater possibilities for research and study."

Andy Wyatt, Administrative Assistance, Kent State Florence



Project Name

Project Inspiration

Project Description

Kimberly Debnam
Kimberly Debnam, College of Business Administration, Managerial Marketing

First Place

The Influence of Africa(ns) on Italian Fashion

No matter where you travel in this world you are bound to encounter new experiences, people, and cultures. It can be so easy to notice the differences that we sometimes fail to recognize the similarities, and to understand how other cultures can influence one another. My goal is to show how this instance has occurred between Italy and African nations. Many people have the idea that America is a melting pot of cultures, but I refuse to accept that the United States is the only country that has allowed itself to be heavily influenced by other countries and cultures. Given my background I began to wonder if Africans had an impact on Italy similar to that of the Americas.

When most people think of the term stereotypes, they think just about people. This is my journey as I look at how the term “stereotypes” has placed itself within one of Italy’s most prominent topics: fashion.

Abigail Knoyak
Abigail Konyak, College of Communications and Information, Communication Studies

Honorable Mention

Behind the Scenes Up Front

With Instagram’s popularity only on the rise, it is the second most used social media platform behind Facebook. Among those users, the majority of them are in fact adults 18-29 years of age. It is especially popular amongst the tourism industry as it is an easy way to attract the eye to what said destination has to offer. The goal of this project though isn’t that simple.  Once reeled in by the exquisite and picturesque sights Florence has to offer, the selling point will hopefully be its worthwhile and life-changing experiences shown first hand by current KSU Florence students.

I started a student-run Instagram account to benefit not only current study abroad students but future students as well. The idea is to show a day in the life of each cohort to more understand and appreciate the amazing work that the students do while abroad. Not only has this project positively affected my KSU Florence experience, but I think and I hope that it has done so for other students and can continue to for semesters to come!

Nicolette Fisher
Nicolette Fisher, College of Communications and Information, Interpersonal Communications

Honorable Mention

Emergency Procedures for Incidents of Terrorism:   
A University Approach

When going through orientation for the Florence study abroad program, many students had brought up their fear of terrorism. Kent State faculty only addressed it by saying the following: it will not happen to you. Looking into the Ivy League Study Abroad programs, two of the three top schools have tips to protect yourself abroad, and also refer to the U.S. Department of State’s website for travel warnings and alerts. Kent State has this resource as well, but none of the schools researched contained any training about surviving a terrorist attack; only avoiding risky situations. Tips and tricks are great, up until the unthinkable happens, and a student is left defenseless. My current goal is to create a training about prevention and survival of a terrorist attack. There is a myriad of resources about protection towards crime, political unrest, and terrorist attacks. My research will go more into detail about the specifics of protection, and elaborate on crisis management if a terrorist attack occurs. The training itself will be based off of the United States active shooter training, also known as the A.L.I.C.E training. Further academic research is needed on my topic of protection from terrorism abroad, but most of my resources as of now are government websites, the A.L.I.C.E training website, ivy league colleges’ Office of Global Education websites, and personal training regarding issues about my topic. The first edition of my training will focus specifically on Kent State’s Florence program, and if successful, will expand to other Kent State abroad programs.

The manual is designed to help train students and faculty involved with study abroad programs. This training, although unlikely it will ever be used, is necessary in the event of a terrorist attack. The training is the first of its kind. It can be adaptable to any study abroad program.

Katherine Andrick
Katherine Andrick, College of the Arts, Fashion Design

Uva Essence

From an art major’s viewpoint, Florence, Italy, is an incredibly stimulating city.  Its beauty is timeless.  There is more art per square foot than in any other city.  For my project, I am diving into the ancient artifacts for inspiration, along with studying prominent fashion designers from Italy.  My research has uncovered the fashion designer Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani, whose incredible attention to detail led him to design haute couture gowns.  His fascination with intricate details truly sets him apart and has made him the famous designer he is today.  Following his example, I desire to create a gown that captures the essence of Florence.  I plan on incorporating ruching, beading, appliques, and chiffon to assimilating the work of Valentino.  I will take inspiration from the city around me by incorporating specific details into my designs, such as color palates and fabric manipulation, and will also source my materials from Italy.  Florence is a magical place for me.  By using elegance, romance, mystery, and intricate details I will create a gown that exudes the enchantment and timelessness that is Florence. 

I created an evening gown, inspired by Valentino’s patented color, Valentino Red, hand died with Tuscan wines to connect Florence with Valentino, accompanied with a detachable chiffon top with a hand stitched hem detail.

Kassandra Cabrera
Kassandra Cabrera, College of Business Administration, Entrepreneurship and Marketing

Give Them an Offer They Can't Refuse

What first got me interested in coming to Italy wasn’t a professor, social media or close friends. It was the history of the Mafia. I have seen the movie The Godfather when I was 14 years-old and that is what got me into learning more about the Italian culture. I was fascinated by the mafia, from famous movies like The Godfather, Goodfellas and Casino, to television shows like The Sopranos. I also did some actual research to make sure Al Pacino and Robert De Niro were not part of the mafia. I was hooked. Now, since I am in Italy, I want to be able to tell and show the difference between how Americans portray the Mafia and how actual Italians portray them. From reading famous Mafia books from Italian authors, watching Italian TV shows that are based on the Mafia, and actually interviewing multiple Italian citizens about their opinion about the mafia. With all this research I hope I can make my point and show the difference between the Italian and American portrayal of the Mafia.

The movie The Godfather is one of the greatest films of all time. It shows the mindset and daily lives of the Corleone Family, which is a part of the Sicilian Mafia (Cosa Nostra), but what The Godfather doesn’t tell or show you is that there is more than the eyes can see, which means there are much worse things than the Cosa Nostra.

Jennifer Glowe
Jennifer Glowe, College of Architecture and Environmental Design, Architecture

Architecture Extends Beyond Walls: San Miniato al Monte

As the oldest church in Florence, San Miniato al Monte has a rich history both architecturally and artistically. My personal experience in the church inspired me to research the history that goes behind the architecture and works of art such as sculpture, painting, and religious imagery found inside its walls. Research on the symbolism of these works will pair with a personal narrative of my journey through the church as I pair each step of research with another visit to San Miniato in order to enrich my understanding of what I find. During these visits, I will sketch what I see in the church based on findings from my research and what I found most interesting. I will also write a short narrative on whatever piece of art or architecture I choose to sketch at each visit. These narratives and sketches will focus on the personal journey of discovering the history of the church as well as the meaning that my findings give to my experience in Florence.

My project focuses on the church of San Miniato al Monte and the elements surrounding it including Parco della Rimembranza, the former fortress wall, and Cimitero delle Porte Sante. The final product documents my journey through the church with sketches, free verse poetry, and photographs. The goal of the project was to show how my journey of discovering the church and its related elements expresses the idea that architecture extends beyond walls as well as how the area has impacted my experience studying abroad in Florence.

Marissa Hoover
Marissa Hoover, College of Arts and Sciences, History

Solving the Secrets Behind the Symbol

When walking the streets of Florence there are many symbols that come to the surface and intrigue the eye. The history that surrounds this magnificent city brings to focus the unexplainable presence of symbols. More specifically, the symbol I have found to be most interesting is the symbol of a cross with four main points. Through research, I have found connections to the Medici family of Florence, as well as the Papacy and the Virgin Mary. These connections have broadened the geographical space of the symbol as well as its value. With further research, I plan on finding more links and more information on the symbol of the cross with four sections. This paper with answer the questions of, “what is the meaning of the symbol?” and “Why does this symbol appear in both religious and public spaces?”

The history that surrounds this magnificent city brings to focus the unexplainable presence of symbols. More specifically, the symbol I have found to be most interesting is the symbol of a cross with four main points. Ultimately, my research brought me to the Byzantine Empire and its influences on Italy. These connections have broadened the geographical space of the symbol as well as its value.  

Alexis Justice
Alexis Justice, College of Arts and Sciences, Child Psychology

Lady in the Room

Originally I planned to do my project on Lady Justice, a prime example of a powerful female role model who took the law into her own hands. But researching her, I started to think about what women face today in Italy. With no remorse, Italy is a male-dominated society, with a male-dominated workforce, violence toward women and so much more.

My project talked about the treatment of women in Italian society today as I’ve witnessed it. It also reaches feminism and how things can effect men and women alike. This was quickly followed by how this perception of gender roles and do’s and don’t’s of Italian society can affect a person mentally.

Jon Martin
Jon Martin,
College of Communications and Information, Communication Studies

Idea Map

I noticed after a few weeks being here that Italy is not as universally proud or Nationalistic like the United States. Yet, each city, each province, has its own feel, a “vibe” you could say, that makes those places unique. I am planning to do what I call an “Idea Map.”  I am taking each of the places that I visit over the semester and collecting pieces that best represent each place I visit. This idea map will cover the tone, texture, and feel of each place. Since Italy is so different as a whole, I thought that I should express that in my project. Not only will this project be helpful for me but, will give others a more in-depth view about what makes Italy unique and could possibly intrigue their interests. My next steps will be further research and analysis on the layers of each of these important cities and their individual cultures.

The Idea Mood Board is essentially a project that collects everything I have obtained from the places around Italy and have experienced. I was greatly inspired by the world around me and various social media. I’m very proud of all the time and effort it took to gather all of these pieces. It is less of an artistic piece and more of a collection, of which, again, I am very proud.

Nicole McFarland
Nicole McFarland. College of Architecture and Environmental Design, Interior Design

Do You See What I See?

At a very young age I took to drawing and creating works of art. I have always had an appreciation for detail, color and design. Since setting my feet on the path towards becoming a designer as a profession I have learned so much more about color and detail and my eyes have become even more trained at picking up details. Whenever I enter into, say a restaurant, I always examine my surroundings from floor to ceiling. I will point out details which usually my parents haven’t noticed and now my dad has told me he often finds himself picking up more details in spaces. Coming here to Italy I knew I would be in for a treat. Here I get to see wonders of the world and buildings from the past. However, I like to carefully examine my surroundings and try to find that detail which is often overlooked. By doing so I feel as if I get a much more enriched experience and I develop a closer bond with my surroundings with each new discovery. My goal is to make others more aware of their surroundings like I have been able to do with my parents. I want to capture the details that most tourists will overlook because they are focused on the whole building and that locals may even overlook because to them these sights are normal; and when a sight becomes normal, details are often overlooked. For my presentation I will draw pictures from Italy (mostly Florence) in black and white. The object or detail of the picture which I have taken interest in will be in color. The contrast between the black and white and color will help to capture others’ interest in the detail which I was captivated by. I will present these drawings along with the original photo for my final deliverable.

 For my project I wanted to help others to see the world around them in a new and different light. I highlighted the importance of all the little details we see around us on a daily basis that we mostly ignore. Sometimes these details are ignored because we are too busy taking in the scene as a whole and other times they are ignored because they are too familiar to us that we seem to forget they are even there. My hope is to get others to look around and enjoy the finer details I life as I do every day as an Interior Designer.

Siera Terry
Siera Terry,
College of Communications and Information. Fashion Merchandising

Artisanal vs. Artificial

In Italian culture, the Bella Figura is a concept that can easily tie the concept of perfume. Wanting a smell that is personalized and gives the wearer an extra layer to their everyday  wardrobe combines perfectly with the Italian culture. The perfume crafted with thoughtfulness and with pure components is clouded with labels that dilute the product from its pure form for sales. Exploring the old craftsmanship will give an appreciation in my studies to tie together the mood of current fashion with a scent that matches. Through mood boards that collect concepts of the old style compared with pieces of the new, viewers will see the transformation of this old craft into a commercialized empire.

Exploring the artisanal craftsmanship found in Florence has transformed my understanding of a modern business. Perfumeries crafted with purpose and attention to details contrast deeply with the modern culture that is mass communicated. Modern businesses can implement these artisanal elements with contemporary techniques to uplift the industry with purpose and bring back consciousness to consumers.