Posted by: SSU Lingua Franca | May 4, 2021

Phi Sigma Iota International Foreign Languages Honor Society

By Kristine Doll and Anna Rocca

Phi Sigma Iota

The World Languages and Cultures department is proud to announce the names of candidates who have been inducted into the Phi Sigma Iota Honors Society for 2019-2021. Phi Sigma Iota is an international honor society that bestows academic honor and recognition in the field of world languages and literatures. To be invited to join this prestigious honor society is a testimony to scholastic and community excellence and leadership.

In addition to the national prestige that Phi Sigma Iota confers, members are also eligible for publication and scholarship opportunities as well as for national and international internships, including those of the Washington Center, the United Planet, and the U.S. Department of State Student Internship Program, among others. Because Phi Sigma Iota is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies, there are additional opportunities for grants, scholarships, and preference for Federal Jobs.

Inductees include undergraduate majors and minors, graduate students in the MAT in Spanish program, faculty members and members of the community. New members are recruited by invitation from faculty based on exceptional academic and community achievement and leadership in foreign language studies.

The induction ceremony is typically held annually in the Grand Ballroom at the Hawthorne Hotel, Salem MA. Given the covid-19 pandemic, we were unable to hold our ceremony but will combine both the 2020 and 2021 celebrations in a virtual event on April 29, 2021.

For any questions, please contact either Dr. Kristine Doll or Dr. Anna Rocca


Shannon Adam was inducted in 2020 as a sophomore at Salem State University, majoring in Media and Communications with a Public Relations concentration and minoring in Spanish. She is part of the Commonwealth Honors Program and the president of the SSU chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Shannon grew up in Munich, Germany, but moved to the United States eight years ago with her family. She works part-time at Rockport Music and, in her spare time, enjoys creating videos about her favorite TV shows. 

Shaima Azam was inducted in 2020 as a senior in the Bertolon School of Business pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting & Finance. She also minored in Spanish and Economics. Shaima held leadership roles in two groups on campus, including her role as Vice President in the Business Honor Society, Delta Mu Delta and Treasurer of the Accounting Association. She was also the Senior Marketing Assistant for the Career Services Office on campus and held this role for the entirety of her time at Salem State.

Christine Belitsky is a second-year student at Salem State University, double majoring in Political Science and History and minoring in French. She grew up in Gardner, Massachusetts, and graduated Gardner High School as valedictorian in 2019. At Salem State, she is a member of the Commonwealth Honors Program, Alpha Lambda Delta, and a fellow for the Center for Civic Engagement. When she isn’t studying, she can be found working as a Student Ambassador for Admissions and as a Supplemental Instructor for French. Next year, Christine hopes to study abroad in France and then intern on Capitol Hill, where she hopes to be able to work after graduation.

Kristen Burgess is a lifelong Francophile.  Kristen ventured back to school at the age of 40 to complete the degree in French she had been talked out of seeking when she first graduated high school, and she now hopes to turn her passion for both the French and English languages into a rewarding and fulfilling career as a translator. She reads extensively and has worked as a bookseller, both in brick-and-mortar bookstores and online, for almost a decade. She currently lives in Woburn, Massachusetts, where she was born and raised, with her partner of 8 years, her father, and four spoiled cats.  

Mathias Nehuen Cardona is a senior at Salem State University. His major is Theatre Design with a concentration in Lighting Design. Mathias is also pursuing SSU’s Translation Certification in Italian. He is double minoring in Music and Entrepreneurship. Mathias was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and has traveled and lived around the world from a young age. One of the biggest challenges he faced was becoming fluent in English and succeeding in the United States after 12 years of solely speaking Spanish. Mathias is giving his all to achieve his dreams by pushing his commitment to his studies to the limit.

Theresa D’Entremont was born and raised in Malden, MA. She graduated from Austin Preparatory School in 2003. She spent some time working at Verizon and then the Massachusetts State House. She returned to school to become a High School English teacher, first going to Bunker Hill Community College and then Salem State University. She has enjoyed learning Italian for the past 3 years. She currently lives with her parents, John and Susan, and her dog, Gilligan.

Allysha Dunnigan (Ally) is a commuter from Lynn majoring in communications, with a concentration in journalism and public relations. She studied abroad in Oviedo, Spain and fell in love with the language, culture and lifestyle. This experience encouraged her to pursue a minor in Spanish in hopes of becoming fluent. She plans to travel as a journalist after graduation and hopes that her knowledge of the Spanish language will help her to do so.

Courtney Field is a double major in early childhood education and Spanish. She has always known she wanted to be a teacher, but her love of learning Spanish came about in high school. During her freshman year in high school, Courtney had a Spanish teacher who greatly inspired her and made learning language fun, so she decided to major in it at Salem State. After college, Courtney wants to spend the summer traveling, (hopefully to Spain) and then start her job as a second-grade teacher in a dual language program. Courtney hopes to continue using Spanish at home and in her career.

Cristina Jauregui Figaredo is a Spanish elementary educator at East Elementary School in Hingham, MA. Jauregui has taught elementary Spanish for five years in both Hingham and Milton. During this time, she has focused on building strong Spanish language skills in her students and inspiring an enthusiasm to explore other cultures.  Before moving into education, Jauregui had a successful international career in Compensation and Benefits in the telecommunications industry working for companies like France Telecom and Vodafone. Jauregui, grew up in Spain, earned a BA in Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, and later obtained a Master’s degree in Human Resources from ICADE University in Madrid, Spain.  She currently resides in Hingham, MA with her husband and two children and obtained her MAT in Spanish from Salem State University in December 2020.

Benjamin Geary was inducted as a senior at Salem State University majoring in French and minoring in Italian. He served as an Italian tutor at Salem State University and as the president of the university’s Italian Club. He enjoys learning about foreign languages and cultures. Outside of school, Ben likes to spend his time with his friends and family and hiking in the woods. His adventurous personality and love for nature will guide him in his future endeavors. 

Sage Jordan Grant began learning French in kindergarten through an immersion program. This program lasted through her senior year of high school and allowed her to learn and explore French language, culture, and history. Sage then began studying French at Salem State University where the courses allowed her to expand her French education. As a sophomore in college Sage studied at Science Po Grenoble in France where she was able to take classes that focused on French government and cultures, as well as Political Science. Sage hopes to continue her use of French upon graduation and throughout her career.

Ashley Greco was inducted as a senior at Salem State University and graduated in May 2020. She was a History major with a concentration in European History and held two minors in Italian and Women’s Studies. She served as the Vice President of the university’s Italian Club and worked diligently to put on events for the club’s members. Ashley was awarded a teaching fellowship in the Lombardy region of Italy from the SITE (Study Intercultural Training Experience) program in 2020.

Ashley Hames was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, attended Beverly Public Schools from elementary to high school, and graduated from Beverly High School in 2018.  Since arriving at Salem State University in the Fall of 2018, Ashley changed academic paths based on 

a passion for learning about the human experience. Originally, a Psychology major with a minor in Spanish, Ashley discovered that they wanted to learn more about the rich, diverse cultures and experiences within the Spanish-speaking community and embarked upon a second major in World Languages and Cultures with a concentration in Spanish.

Kenneth Richard Hyland has been a student of foreign languages for over 17 years. He began his endeavors in the 4th grade when he was first introduced to Spanish. Through hard work and determination, he excelled in the language and decided to major in Spanish at Salem State University. Since he began his studies here, he has completed an immersive study abroad program in Oviedo, Spain, as well as received a Certificate in Translation. During his studies in the Certificate program, he gained experience translating for a number of clients outside the University, as well as completed an internship at Salem City Hall. Kenneth owes his achievements to the wonderful faculty of professors of Spanish at Salem State University and their push to make him an exceptional student of Spanish, all of which have given him many career opportunities for his future. 

Maria Hernandez Koehler (Maruchi) was born and raised in Puerto Rico, speaking Spanish and, at school, learned English and French. Later on, she graduated from Villanova University in Pennsylvania with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and French. She started teaching in 2009, as a Spanish and French teacher. She has taught both languages in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington State. Now, Maruchi teaches kindergarten through third grade Spanish at Cunniff Elementary in Watertown. She is finishing her Masters of Arts in Teaching Spanish at Salem State University. Maruchi loves her husband Dan, volunteering, dancing, singing and her two cats. 

Rachael Kuper studied Professional Writing, French, and Translation in Salem State University’s English and World Languages Departments. She worked in the Mary G. Walsh Writing Center as a Peer Tutor, as well as a Course Embedded Tutor in French 501, a senior seminar in French. Rachael has consistently been on the Dean’s List during her years at Salem State University and graduated Summa Cum Laude in May 2020. She aspires to attend law school after graduation. 

Emma Lee is a Commonwealth Honors Program student at Salem State University. She is currently working towards a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with minors in both Spanish and mathematics. Emma has always been a dedicated student and was proud to receive an invitation to join Phi Sigma Iota. She is very excited to be able to join this esteemed society and is extremely grateful for the incredible opportunities she will have as a result of her membership. Emma extends her congratulations to all other students invited to join Phi Sigma Iota.

Dominic Massa was inducted as a History major with minors in Italian and in Education. Dominic began his studies at Salem State in summer 2016 as a student in the Summer Bridge Academy. Once he completed the Academy, Dominic began work towards his goal of becoming a history teacher. Midway through his second year, he learned that he could graduate early if he so desired. Rather than graduate early, Dominic took advantage of this opportunity to acquire the minor in Italian language and culture. He knew it would be additional work but he would not be deterred. Through hard work and determination, he succeeded and soon will be advancing to a Master’s Degree in History.

Jacqueline Nunes (Jackie) graduated from Salem State University majoring in History and minoring in Italian language and culture. At Salem State, Jacqueline served as the president of the Italian Club and was very involved with the World Languages and Cultures department. Jackie studied Italian at Salem State every semester since their first year. Hard work in all their classes and extracurricular activities brought the opportunity to finish undergraduate studies a semester earlier than expected. Jackie graduated from Salem State in December of 2020 and was awarded a teaching fellowship in the Lombardy region of Italy from the SITE (Study Intercultural Training Experience) program in 2020. Jackie is now working as a teaching assistant in a high school, working towards their teaching license. 

Samantha Stickney is a World Languages and Cultures major, with a concentration in French. She has an additional Art & Design major, concentrating in both Printmaking and Art History. She is also completing the Certificate in Translation. At Salem State, she spends her time as a member of the Commonwealth Honors Program and working three jobs: French Peer Tutor, Desk Receptionist, and a First-Year Mentor. Upon graduation, she hopes to pursue a job as an Assistant Language Teacher with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. 

Matthew G. Swindell is a history major and a double minor in geography and French in the undergraduate class of 2021 at Salem State University. He lives in Beverly, Massachusetts, and is invested in historical matters there, being the current research manager at the Beverly Historical Society, as well as being connected to historical matters in Salem. He has been motivated in the studying of French through study of his lineage, with his paternal grandmother having grown up in the French-speaking Castle Hill neighborhood of Salem. He enjoys bicycle riding, local history research, and photography, with a particular interest in stereo photography.

Honorary Members  

Andrew Allen is a veteran educator with over 25 years of diverse experience in public and private schools including K-12 and higher education institutions. Currently, Mr. Allen is the Director of Adult Education at Wellspring House Inc., in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He leads the Adult Learning Initiative for College Readiness and English Speakers of Other Language programs. Mr. Allen is also the chief examiner for the High School Equivalency Exam. In addition to his work at Wellspring, Mr. Allen teaches at Salem State University as an adjunct professor for the undergraduate and graduate programs in the School of Education.  

Chiara Durazzini is a native of Florence, Italy, and has been working as a theater actress and director both in Italy and in Boston. She is the co-founder and artistic director of the Commedia dell’Arte Troupe Pazzi Lazzi for which she performs, teaches and directs, and of the amateur Italian theatre company All’italiana – Boston Italian Theatre Company which involves Italian speakers in staging shows by Italian playwrights. She has trained with the actors of Odin Teatret and studied extensively Commedia dell’Arte at the Scuola Sperimentale dell’Attore near Venice. Chiara is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Dante Alighieri Society of Massachusetts and helps to organize its cultural events. She obtained her Master’s degree in Art, Music and Theatre from the University of Bologna, Italy.

Melissa Hayes Albert learned French as a child living in Switzerland with her family. She is a World Languages educator in her eleventh year of teaching in the Swampscott School District. Before joining Swampscott, she earned her Master of Arts in French Language and Literature from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and taught for nine years in the University’s Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. In her role as a French teacher at Swampscott High School, she strives to expose students to the wonder and beauty of the French language and the Francophone world. She has organized numerous international travel experiences and cultural exchanges, including a collaboration with the Barka Foundation, an NGO working on clean water access in Burkina Faso. Outside of school, she works as a volunteer interpreter for ILAP (Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project) in Maine, assisting attorneys with asylum cases.

Vincent Procopio, a graduate of Salem State University, is an MUPC Magistrate for the Essex Probate and Family Court under the Register of Probate, Pamela Casey O’Brien Esq. The Essex Probate and Family Court recognizes the importance of providing all litigants and court users with equal access to justice. Beginning in the spring of 2019, Mr. Procopio designed and supervised a program of internships at the court for WLC students. Vincent used the students’ skills in foreign language to translate court forms and procedural instructions for Spanish-speaking court users. Their hard work and dedication over the course of the semester is now benefitting many families and court users throughout the Commonwealth.  Such a practical and daily application of commitment to community and justice is at the heart of everything Vincent does and is a hallmark of his professional and personal relationships.

Maria Luisa Saraceni is a proud member of six Italo American Associations in Greater Boston: the Dante Alighieri Society of Massachusetts, the Pirandello Lyceum, in which she serves as the Recording Secretary, the Circolo Italiano, the Aprutium-Donne D’Abruzzo, the Orsogna Women’s Club, and the Benevolent Society.  She has been volunteering for 12 years as teacher of Italian to children at PILC (Pirandello Italian Language Center) in the North End School St. John. She has been singing in the Dante’s chorus for 13 years and in St. Anthony’s Church chorus, Everett, MA for 15 years. 

Patricia Zaido has enjoyed four distinct and unique professional careers. After graduate school, she was a speech language pathologist at Kennedy Memorial Hospital and then in the Needham public schools. The next 37 years were at SSU. She was a faculty member and chair of the theatre and speech Department for 27 of those years. She then was the founding Director of the Center for Creative & Performing Arts. She retired but for the next 11 years was the Executive Director of the Salem Partnership. This organization focuses on major economic issues for the city of Salem. Again, she retired but soon was working with Mayor Driscoll to make Salem an Age-Friendly city. This initiative is now in the 5th year of its five-year action plan. Patricia has traveled the world. She enjoys all live performances in theatre, dance and music. She is a museum nerd, loves all things historical and great wine.


Dr. Guillermo Avila-Saavedra is a Professor and Chairperson at Salem State University where he teaches courses on Media Studies, Intercultural Communication, and Latinx Studies. He has served as faculty fellow for Diversity and Inclusion and for the First Year Experience. His scholarship examines the intersection of media, culture and identity in a globalized world. A native of Ecuador who has lived in France and the United States, he is a committed advocate of world languages and cultures instruction for its capacity to advance the cause of global equity and social justice. 

Logan H. Dunnigan (’16, ‘19G) serves as the Transition & Experience Coordinator at Salem State University. Inspired by his memorable experience at Salem State as a student, Logan now gets to welcome new students through the institution’s orientation programs. In the last year, he has worked with faculty and students from the World Languages and Cultures department to translate orientation materials into Spanish. In his free time, Logan is an avid Star Wars fan and loves spending time with his partner Bryie and their dog, Sonny. 

Guest Speaker

Adam Cutler was born in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up in South America and Europe in multicultural environments. He has worked, studied and travelled all over the world as a teacher and administrator. For the last 15 years, Adam has worked at various Community Based Organizations and Colleges around the Greater Boston area and most recently at North Shore Community College as the Dean of Strategic Partnerships. All of his roles have had an eye towards promoting Education through the lens of social justice and equity. Personally, you are likely to find Adam hiking on the trails during all seasons with his wife and two, energetic young children.

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