PHutures – 100 Alumni Voices »

Victoria Fanti

“At the end of the day it does come down to advocating for yourself, and unfortunately for some people, that’s more difficult than it is for others, but it’s a skill that you have to cultivate and work on, and it’s something that’s going to serve you for the rest of your life.”

Krieger School of Arts & Sciences

German & Romance Languages & Literature (Italian), PhD 2021

Programme Coordinator, United Nations

Victoria‘s Podcast Episode

In this episode, we discuss Victoria’s unexpected path to pursuing a PhD in Italian Literature and her doctoral work on killer queens in Italian Renaissance tragedy, her reflections on the challenges of dealing with chronic illness while pursuing her degrees and the ways academia is often poorly equipped to support diverse needs, and her take on the importance of taking time to examine your personal values and goals when it comes to planning your next career step.

Learn More About Victoria‘s Story

This photo was taken during one of our family vacations. My mom, dad, sister, and I would go on multi-day hiking excursions. I’m very close with my family, and memories of those hikes are some of my fondest. The high that comes from reaching a mountain peak is totally unique. It’s the feeling of being both incredibly powerful and completely insignificant at the same time. You’ve conquered real physical and psychological hurdles to get there, but the extraordinary view with which you’re rewarded in fact only emphasizes how infinitesimal and transient you are in the grand scheme of things. Those trips made me realize how important I find spending time in nature to be. They also inaugurated my love of wildlife, as we met all sorts of surprise animals along the way: cows, mountain goats, rabbits, the occasional screaming marmot, etc. As someone who had been, for much of my young life, very competition-oriented (for instance, my main athletic interest had always been soccer and ONLY soccer), this shift in mindset represented important personal growth. And, like all other things in my life, it couldn’t have been achieved without my family by my side.

During my last four years of grad school, I would get intravenous medical treatments one week out of every month. I’d be hooked up to an IV in the hospital for seven to eight hours a day, for five days straight, and then I would need about another six to seven days to recover. Halfway through that period, my then-boyfriend (now-husband) and I adopted an adorable little dog from a local shelter. The idea was that Yuki would be my emotional support animal. She turned out to be a golden-hearted marshmallow. Her top priorities were (and remain) eating and cuddling, so she would keep me company during my recovery each month. Even when I looked and felt like a shell of a person, Yuki would plant herself in bed with me, politely (but insistently) demand my affection, and extend hers in return. This picture shows one of those times. Those years were defining for me in many ways, both good and bad. Disability really made me question my value to society—the professional world, especially—but my worth never wavered in Yuki’s beautiful, spooky, black eyes. She reminded me of what really mattered: family, love, resilience, and her dinner.