Aria Mia Loberti

Majors: Philosophy, Political Science, and Communication Studies
Minors: Rhetoric (Theory & Practice) and Ancient Greek 

What makes the College of Arts and Sciences at URI unique?
The College feels like a small liberal arts and humanities college, with warm and welcoming energy, specialized attention, and close-knit relationships. However, we also have all of the resources of a large, dynamic research institution. Arts and Sciences students receive the best of both worlds.

What accomplishments and/or activities are you most proud of while at URI?
I am proud of somehow managing to graduate in four years with three majors, two minors, and honors…who knew that was possible! I learned a language (Ancient Greek), started URI Rhetoric Society, and have been privileged to serve as president of Philosophy Club for the past two years. I am grateful for the opportunity to TA several classes, tutor at the AEC, serve as a URI 101 Mentor, and be a research assistant in the Harrington School. URI also supported my advocacy work at the United Nations for people with disabilities, women’s rights, and those who, like me, are blind/low-vision. My advocacy also carried over to our campus, including by working with URI leadership to improve accessibility in research poster symposia, increasing awareness of working dogs on campus, and serving as TEDxURI speaker and assistant coach. I taught yoga on campus, have worked for nearly three years in the Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, and author articles for URI’s research magazine. I owe my success at URI to the mentors who shared their time, energy, and passion with me and never stifled my curiosity.

What, if any, research projects, internships, and/or study abroad programs did you participate in at URI? How did they enhance your education?
My research prepares me both for my career goals and for graduate school, but it also holds intrinsic value; the ability to take an idea from inception to completion, and to witness its affects, is invaluable. At URI, I have published three papers in peer-reviewed scholarly journals. I have been fortunate to have had opportunities to present my scholarship at several major academic conferences, regionally to internationally. My Senior Thesis in Philosophy, my two Honors Projects, and multiple independent research projects supervised by professors have all been invaluable experiences. I appreciate that I have been able to work in many different fields, including a Science & Engineering Fellowship in biology pedagogy, a Coastal & Environmental Fellowship in entomology and machine learning, and an Arts & Sciences fellowship in critical rhetoric. One of my proudest moments in my URI experience was receiving the University Excellence Award for Research and Scholarship in the Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities.

What do you value about your liberal arts education?
The liberal arts curriculum stimulates integration, perception, critical thinking, and adaptability. Rather than merely learning a skill or vocation, I soak everything up like a sponge. In Communication Studies, I learn to communicate peacefully and powerfully with those whose beliefs or identities may seem miles away from my own. In Philosophy, I learn to never take my knowledge or abilities for granted, to think logically, to be comfortable with the unknown, and to pursue moral principles. In Political Science, I learn to find confidence in my voice, to understand the groundwork of our political system, and envision the scope of our global political, socioeconomic, and cultural conditions. No matter where my life takes me, these are invaluable proficiencies.

What’s next for you?
I am excited, honored, and humbled to be recipient of a 2020/2021 Fulbright Award for graduate study in the United Kingdom, through which I will pursue an MRes in Rhetoric, at Royal Holloway, University of London. The one-year program is based in the Department of Classics, which is complemented by a one-of-a-kind Centre for Oratory & Rhetoric. Its mission is to connect Ancient Greek and Roman oratory, philosophy, legal, and rhetorical thought to contemporary issues.

After this, I will continue directly to a MA/PhD program in Rhetoric, through the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences, at Penn State. I plan to embark on a career in academic research, and am particularly motivated to engage in publically facing and politically driven work that can reach people beyond the academy. Of course, I would also like to continue my gender- and disability-rights activism. Women and people with disabilities remain woefully underrepresented in academia, and I hope to play a role in filling that gap myself, given my identities. But, more principally, I aspire to amplify the voices of others—both my colleagues and historical figures—to help make the academy and the world a more representative, inclusive, and welcoming space.

Anything else you’d like to share about yourself?
My Guide Dog, Ingrid, is also graduating from URI with me. In addition to training intensively for two years to become a working Guide Dog, Ingrid also has learned several words in Ancient Greek, knows over 100 words and phrases in English, and can find sixteen URI buildings on command.