MY FULBRIGHT EXPERIENCE: Francesca Calamunci, borsista Falcone-NIAF si racconta

I am Francesca Calamunci. I was born and raised in the small town of Sinagra, in the province of Messina, where I am currently pursuing my Ph.D in Economics, Statistics, and Management, after earning a M.Sc. in Economic and Financial Science (2016) and a B.Sc. in Economics and Management (2014).

My interest in the field of economics of crime emerged during the research I conducted for my master thesis. Currently, following Giovanni Falcone’s legacy, my research focuses on the infiltration of organized crime in legitimate businesses through apparently legal firms.

Thanks to Fulbright-Falcone-NIAF I made my dream to pursue my research in the U.S. come true. At the moment, I am carrying out my research in New York City, at the John Jay College (City University of New York) under the supervision of Professor Yuliya Zabyelina.

In line with my proposal, my research concentrates on developing a comparison of the aforementioned phenomena in Italy and the U.S. in order to identify differences and similarities between the two countries. This activity allows me to acquire more skills, experiences, and valuable material to complete my research, and most importantly, to spread and transfer the acquired knowledge to the territory characterized by the problem of organized crime. To a certain extent, this also allows me to contribute to the fight against organized crime.

Living in NYC gave me the opportunity to meet prosecutors of the U.S. Attorney Office, experts of criminal forfeiture, members of the Business Integrity Commission and further employees of important federal offices. This, in return, has allowed me to develop my own knowledge and abilities. An important achievement during my visiting was certainly my presentation at one of the largest professional associations in my field, Academic of Criminal Justice Science, in New Orleans in February 2018. This experience greatly contributed to my knowledge and expanded my professional network.

As a Visiting Scholar at John Jay College, I took part in the campus life and was able to share my experience with other international students. Moreover, I was able to share my love for Sicily! At the same time, I also had the possibility to be part of the big community life of CUNY areas and of the other university institutions.

Fulbright VR Community Day in New York presso l’IIE Office

I have always been interested in learning more about the world out there. The possibility to take part in the strengthening relationship of Fulbright, present globally and fuelled by cross-cultural professions, exceeded my expectations. Being part of the Fulbright community and connecting to other Fulbright Scholars immensely contributed to the mutual exchange of culture and knowledge in so many different field. This experience has been incredibly valuable for my future career and my personal development: it has amazingly broadened my horizons and led me to challenge concepts that I had previously thought as immutable.

Fulbright Day presso le Nazioni Unite, manifestazione organizzata da One To World

Fulbright is not only a prestigious academic endeavor, it is furthermore a strong community, which I like to call a “big family”. Participating in the Fulbright Community days, lastly at the United Nations, I realized what the famous saying: “ You are a Fulbrighter for life!” truly means. The sharing of the professional and personal experiences with the Fulbright Alumni coming from different places of the world made that saying real and concrete.

Fulbright-Falcone-NIAF is a perfectly designed scholarship: the prestige of the Fulbright Commission, the importance of the legacy of Italian-American origin and, in my case, living in the Big Apple! I am beyond grateful for this unique opportunity, and I am really proud to be part of this program!