Tori Cohen

Student, University of Miami

BA, 2015 – Art HistoryMinor, Visual Media Studies

How has being an Art, Art History & Visual Studies graduate from Duke helped shape your professional success?

After Duke, I decided to join Teach for America in Miami-Dade (my home town). Majoring in Art History has made me a very analytical person and appreciative/ aware of other cultures — this was beneficial when I was teaching for two years in Miami with Haitian and migrant worker communities. Art History teaches you to analyze art and the context of the art to get the whole picture, which was a valuable skill while teaching — for instance, a lot of students have tough home lives which translates into misbehavior in the classroom, and you have to understand the whole picture to be a culturally responsive teacher. In Art History you also have to be clear and concise in your analysis, which has helped my be clear and concise in my instruction.

Art History also allowed me to explore architecture/ design, which is ultimately going to be my career. I am starting at University of Miami School of Architecture in the Fall for a three year Master of Architecture Professional Program. I got to study the history of architecture throughout many of my Art History classes, through studying abroad at University College London, and though doing a career discover program in architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design. I also got exposed to a lot of different technology to represent architecture such as Sketch Up and Arc GIS. One of the highlights of my Art History career was I got to go to Athens with a class over Spring Break to do research on Ancient Athens and its architecture, and I continued doing research for the Digital Athens with my professor after the class ended.

What advice would you give students in Art, Art History & Visual Studies?

I loved my Art History major. My advice is that you have to follow your passion and you will be successful — Art History is challenging but I did well in my classes and had a strong GPA because I was passionate about the subject. I was apprehensive at first to major in Art History because I wrongly feared it "wasn't practical" but you can do anything with the major, in or out of the art world- I know people at Duke who went to Medical School and Harvard Law School after majoring in Art History. Recruiters from companies such as Google and Teach for America reached out to me. Looking back I think Art History truly helped me stand out as a job candidate and graduate school applicant. It helps develop writing skills, technological skills, analytical skills, cultural awareness, and creative skills. I would recommend doing the Nasher Internship and looking back I wish I took much more visual art classes. I also recommend doing research projects with professors — it will be helpful when you need a recommendation. I also recommend definitely studying art history abroad!

Tori Cohen