A native of Romania, who immigrated to New York City and eventually moved to Reading, Florentina Laichici was working for Meridian Bank after graduating from Reading High School. A merger was announced that caused her to be laid off, but opened the door for her to take a free semester of classes at RACC.
"I jumped at the chance to experience college and test the intellectual waters of higher learning," said Florentina. "At that time I wasn't sure if I had what it took to be a good college student. RACC gave me the chance to prove that I had what it took to excel, serving as the launching pad in my academic career."
Her immediate interest was in Pyschology and through her studies connected with Dr. Pamela Blakely, who introduced her to anthropology and cultural studies. In fact, Florentina was a student in the very first Honors course at RACC, Intercultural Communication with Dr. Blakely. Fascinated, Florentina also took the Ethnographic Research, and Interpreting Lives: Rites of Passage, Personal History, and the Life Cycle classes.
"It was an instant connection and she opened my mind to many possibilities, including Anthropology," said Florentina, who was a member of RACC's chapter of Phi Theta Kappa honor society. "She encouraged me to believe in myself and reach much further than I originally set out to do."
The addition of anthropology to her interest in psychology and personal background as an immigrant guided Florentina to the Master's program at Syracuse University's Maxwell School to study International Relations after earning a bachelor's degree at Albright College.
"They had such a solid program and provided a flexible approach to curriculum," she said. "At Syracuse, I had the opportunity to continue to indulge my fascination with Psychology and other interests by taking courses in Political Psychology, International Political Psychology, Leader Trait Assessment, International Political Law, and a Multilateral Peacekeeping Seminar in London."
After two years working with international refugees, Florentina took her current position with the Department of Transportation as a Senior Investigator. She enjoys her job investigating complaints which contributes to the overall goal of the Office of Inspector General. She has also collaborated with other agencies such as the FBI, the Navy, Department of Interior and Pentagon Force Protection Agency on different projects. She said, "My work is interesting, and, at times, our collective efforts prevent the loss of lives."
Florentina now calls Virginia her home with her husband and daughter, and makes the commute to Washington, D.C. for her job. But, she shares how it all started with RACC.