In search of new opportunities, a 16-year-old girl decided to leave her family and everything she knew behind to tread into the unknown. Late night Aug. 7, 2012, her parents drove her two hours from Pescara, Italy, to the closest airport in Rome, where she would begin her new life in America. “I had never flown, I had never spoke English, and in my mind I was about to explode,” she said.
Miss United Nations of the world winner and UVU PR senior Ludovica Giusti was invited by Communication Professor Henk McIntire to speak in Giusti’s UVU Lecture Series class where she shared her personal story and the four biggest lessons that have impacted her life.
During her first year in the U.S., she completed her senior year of high school while staying with a host family and regularly using Skype to communicate with her parents back home. “I felt like someone they were proud of, I finally felt like I could teach something [and] not only learn from them, which is a really interesting feeling,” she said.
In 2013, her brother joined her in America and the two began attending Salt Lake Community College and they later transferred to UVU in 2016. At the time, they had been going from apartment to apartment when they finally settled with a host family, but after two months, the family said they were too much of a weight to keep. Giusti and her brother decided to leave, not knowing where they would end up.
The siblings stayed with another family in Salt Lake City until they were able to find a cheap apartment near the school. “After my brother and I moved to our humble apartment, we were not sleeping at night because of the bad neighborhood. My brother would stay awake because people would bang on our windows or door and yell out different things.”
Lesson 1: Hope
March 4, 2014 would make a huge impact in her life – and also bring some valuable lessons with it. Giusti’s brother was driving her to school and accidentally ran a red light when they were suddenly hit by a UTA bus. Their car was totaled and Giusti fractured the front of her skull. She was unable to receive proper care because she did not have insurance being an international student.
Having survived the accident, Giusti said this is when she learned her first vital lesson, and where she decided to change her outlook on life. Giusti made positive changes, and decided to take a chance to showcase her talents.
Giusti’s family was very musically inclined – her mom being an opera singer, her brother a music producer and drummer as well as her father being a widely known orchestra conductor, pianist and vocal coach. Having these influences helped pave the way for her love of music. After the crash, she decided to put herself out there and pursue her passion.
“It wasn’t until the car crash, a week later, that I was song-writing…I have been given a second chance to make an impact in my life, to develop my talents, to not take them for granted…[The second chance] made me start hoping in myself, made me realize that we could be here one day and couldn’t be here the next day, so just give 150 percent of yourself out to the world every single day,” Giusti said.
“Great River” Ludovica’s very first song written song, released on April 6, 2015, a year after her car crash.
“Courage”, a song Giusti wrote to raise awareness on earthquakes in Italy, Aug. 2016.
Lesson Two: Making and accomplishing goals
In the 2017 fall semester, Giusti found herself with a full school schedule and two jobs, as well as a love of boxing – kickboxing, street-boxing, muay thai and jiu jitsu specifically. Spending almost eight hours in the gym had its effect in other places in her life, and Giusti’s GPA fell. That’s when she learned the value of prioritizing — and despite her counselor’s doubtful looks, Giusti was able to work hard and bring her grades back up.
Through determination, Giusti will have changed her 2.8 GPA to her goal of 3.6 by the time she graduates in the spring. “[I] picked [boxing] over school and my duties, and it turned out to be a lesson as well…you have to find a balance,” Giusti said.
Lesson Three: Believing in yourself
Feb. 2016, Giusti brainstormed the idea that would turn her goal of starting a business into a reality — Ludonation, a non-profit organization founded on education and diversity that focuses on service. That same year, representing Italy, Giusti was crowned Miss United Nations USA. Having a platform gave Giusti the opportunity to grow her organization, donate over 5,000 items of clothing to the homeless in Utah, speak at conferences and continue to serve her community.
“I heard my name and I decided to walk on stage thinking that I was already the winner, and let me tell you, when you emotionally and physically invest yourself in believing that you already are who you want to become, people are going to see it. I can assure you 1,000 percent that people notice it,” Giusti said, “So believe that you already are who you want to become.”
Lesson Four: Time
“The biggest problem that a human being has is to believe that they have enough time,” Giusti said. Often, we waste time and are unaware of how much we are letting slip by us. Using an example from public speaker Jay Shetty, Giusti emphasized that every day we are given 86, 400 seconds that we will only be able to use once, so it is best to not take it for granted.
Giusti shared that we should use this time to follow our passions, work hard and improve ourselves. Time can be our best friend, if we use it correctly. Giusti said every morning we can wake up early and plan, so that we use time to our best advantage. “Try your best and try every single second of the day to be the best way possible…use time to your advantage to fulfill all your dreams. Without planning, without envisioning where I wanted to go, I wouldn’t be here,” Giusti said.