Gifts in Action

Nina Hopkins, BA 2018, attends the Poggio Civitate excavation in Italy

The summer of 2017 I participated in the Poggio Civitate excavation. The 6-week program gave varied training in both field work and preservation work in the lab. I participated mostly in the lab work where we received training from a member of the conservation team from the British Museum. It was extremely rewarding to be able to follow the process of archeology from the discovery of an artifact all the way through its cleaning and cataloging. We were also free to use our weekends for whatever travel we could fit in and I chose to visit as may historical sites as possible including the Roman Forum, Colosseum, Pompeii, and Herculaneum. Being able to discover the historical structures of Rome while working on a much older Etruscan site allowed me to have a more critical eye and deeper context for classical history. On site we also participated in an experimental piece of archeology by trying to replicate ancient dying and weaving processes. This program gave me a greater understanding of how our knowledge of the ancient world is produced, and gave me a vital sense of place and scale in talking about historical sites. It was a truly unforgettable and rewarding experience that has only inspired me to further my studies in Classics.

Nina Hopkins

Hephestion Bolaris, BA 2016, attends the Accademia Vivarium Novum in Rome

The summer of 2016 I spent taking an immersive course in Latin and a supplementary course in Ancient Greek at the Accademia Vivarium Novum was a unique and, for me, very enriching experience. The philosophy, that these “dead” languages can only truly be comprehended if we learn to speak and write as the ancient authors did, completely changed my perspective on Classical literature. From learning the basics on day one, such as identifying Rome on a map in Latin, we slowly learned to internalize the vocabulary and rules of grammar to actively speak the language. I was pleasantly surprised by how the immersive nature of the academy helped me deepen my knowledge. We spoke Latin in our Latin classes (and Greek in our Greek classes). We dined in Latin, we played soccer in Latin, we joked and laughed only in Latin! (There was of course some humor in Greek, mainly around the idea of βίος being χαλεπός.) We took personal ownership of a language that had been spoken ages ago, so that when we came to read Ovid and Catullus and other authors, we were able to connect to them with an immediacy that I doubt otherwise would have been possible. We were able, as a famous philologist once said, to make the ancients speak by feeding them with our own blood. Even now, snippets of songs we sung or passages we read continue pop back into my head and remind me of the time when my relationship with the Classics had been so profoundly changed.

Hephestion Bolaris


James Stark, BAT 2015, attends American Academy in Rome Classical Summer School


I spent the summer visiting and studying archaeological sites throughout Rome, its surrounding area, and Pompeii. We were also given special access to several sites not available to the public. It was truly an amazing experience to walk where the Romans walked and to see many Roman artifacts in person, all while still studying classics, reading Latin, and learning about pedagogy from Genevieve Gessert and the other participants in the program.

Audrey Majors, Classics Major, Attends 2014 Summer Living Latin in Rome Program

Audrey Majors

While being partially funded by our department’s Classics Travel Award, I was fortunate enough to spend 5 weeks of this past summer participating in a Latin program in Rome. The program, Living Latin in Rome, was offered by the Paideia Institute and focused on an appreciation for Latin as the living language it was and how it still is today. It was incredible to spend my summer in a program particularly catered to appreciating and learning Latin, and with people who were as excited and invested in the language as I am. The program focused on visiting historical sites and reading relevant Latin texts to make the culture truly come alive. From listening to Latin mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to reciting Cicero in the forum to roaming the ruins of Pompeii only speaking in Latin, my trip changed the way I think about Latin. There is something truly unforgettable and amazing about reading a Latin text on the site where Vergil or Cicero themselves would have stood. It creates a tangible appreciation that makes you understand that this language was truly spoken and used by people, something that can be buried as you sit in an classroom. Overall, it was really rewarding to see my Latin grow and strengthen throughout my trip and to come home with a better grasp on both the grammar of Latin and its history.



Jessica Wells, Classics Graduate Student, Attends 2013 ASCA Summer Program



The ASCA Summer Program is undoubtedly one of the greatest experiences of my life thus far. The program has affected my life and studies in a number of ways and as a result, it has become very important to me. I feel as though I have a much better handle on certain aspects of my studies. I can really see how the landscape formed much of Greek religion, philosophical thought, and politics. I understand more clearly now that Greek culture was cultivated in a physical space, and that these locations influenced every aspect of Greek life. The literature that I have studied and will continue to study was written, not in a vacuum, but during actual times, in real places, among huge monuments. The text seems more alive to me now. In addition to augmenting my understanding of the ancient world, the program has allowed me to make some lasting connections with others in my field. I became very close with many other students in the program, and formed relationships that will last at least as long as we are in the field. We also heard lectures from about sixty professors and excavators. It was incredible to hear about sites from lead excavators and the experts. We were presented with much information, accumulated many bibliographies, and had access to an excellent research library at the American School. This was an experience that I will never forget, and I would highly recommend the ASCA summer program to any student in Classics. I have many people to thank for this opportunity, including current and former professors for encouragement and letter writing, the Classics department at UIUC for funding and especially those who contribute to the funding of graduate student research. Thank you.

A portion of Jesse's expenses were covered by the generous donations of Classics alumni and friends.

John Lewis Heller Memorial Prize

For outstanding achievement as an undergraduate major of the Classics.