Meet the Staff: Laelle

The SRISA staff is the essential backbone of the school, the heart of your new Italian/abroad family. Willing to help in any way, whether it be drawing you a map or pronounce a word for the 10th time, they are patient and always smiling. I thought it was time to highlight them and all the great things they do. How are they amazing, and how do they handle all these crazy students?! Keep checking back for more interviews with the SRISA staff. 

Job title: Registrar and Housing Coordinator

Student perspective: “Before I came to Florence and SRISA, I had a million and one questions I needed answers to. I remember feeling like I was emailing Laelle at least 3 times a day. Before I’d even met her I could tell by her responses that she was patient, well organized, and kind, she really helped me keep my head straight and come to Italy prepared.” Mari M. Fall 2014

How long have you worked at SRISA?

I joined SRISA as a member of the staff in 2009.

What makes SRISA different/special from other study abroad programs?

SRISA is not just a school, it’s a community.  The faculty and staff are present and involved – they truly care about providing the students and visiting programs with an enriching experience, a home away from home.

Whats something everyone should check out while in Florence?

I always recommend climbing to the top of the Duomo.  It’s worth the wait in line and cost of the ticket to climb through Brunelleschi’s dome where you get up close and personal with his incredible architectural feat, frescos, tools used to create the dome, and bird’s eye view of this enchanting Renaissance city.  Tip: go towards the end of the day when the sun is beginning to set to catch the light that illuminates the terra cotta roofs. This is not, however, an activity for those that are claustrophobic.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Although a bit off put by the cold, I would love to go to Iceland at some point and see the aurora borealis

If you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

French fries… definitely french fries!

What do you do in your free time?

I have a BFA in printmaking and enjoy getting into my studio to work on projects when I find the time.  I love playing board games, cooking and eating good food, getting out into nature as well as lounging around with a good book.

What class would you recommend to students?

Printmaking and Book Arts.  Patricia Silva, SRISA’s printmaking and book arts professor, is wonderful to work with.  I enjoy participating from time to time in the group projects and seeing the students’ creations.

You’re from the USA, attended SRISA, and now work here, what made you stay?

I studied abroad in Florence while in college and immediately fell in love with this beautiful town.  Its culture, art, food, city/landscape, people… I couldn’t get enough!  I connected with an Italian family that was looking for an English tutor for their kids during the summer and ended up staying with them after my program.  They left me with an open invitation to return whenever I wished and upon graduating that’s exactly what I did, having been accepted for an internship at SRISA.  My plan was to stay for only 6 months but through good fortune, a position on SRISA Staff that opened up, and meeting of my husband, those 6 months have turned into 6 years and counting!

What inspires your artwork?

I’m inspired by the color schemes, shapes and patterns found in nature and tend to tie them into my prints and books.  You can see some examples of my work at

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