Lecturer in Italian, Emerita
All those of us in the Italian department who worked with Mirella Cheeseman and came to know her well and appreciate her charming presence and impeccable work ethics, were left saddened by her recent and premature passing.
Born in Naples, Italy, Mirella enjoyed all the privileges of her family’s aristocratic heritage and wealthy status, a situation that was however changed by the horrors of World War II. In the post-war era Mirella completed her education, which culminated with a law degree from the University of Naples. Shortly thereafter, Mirella married an American citizen, Herbert Cheeseman, and accompanied him to California, where eventually she became a lecturer in Italian at UCLA.
One of the main academic responsibilities of Mirella’s position, during her 30 years with our department, was the organizing, supervising and training of Teaching Assistants; it was indeed in this area that Mirella excelled, thanks not only to her professionalism, but also to her personal poise and cheerful character, as well as her ability to combine rigorous and thorough training with the extraordinary human warmth that she naturally possessed.
Many, if not all, of the young teachers Mirella trained have pursued careers in the field of Italian studies and are now on the faculty of major institutions of higher learning. We are sure to express their feelings together with ours by simply saying “grazie Mirella.”