Department of Art holds graduate school panel

October 26th, 2012 Comments Off on Department of Art holds graduate school panel

(Photo by Rebekah Trotter | senior, photography) left to right: Vaughn Wascovich, Kristina Smith and Kat Wilson dish out advice on obtaining a Master of Fine Arts at a panel on Oct. 26 in the Union.

The Department of Art held a graduate school panel on Oct. 26 in the union for students interested in pursing a Master of Fine Arts (MFA).

In the informal session, two MFA candidates and a professor gave students advice and told them their different views about graduate school.

Vaughn Wascovich, assistant professor of photography at Texas A&M University, waited until he was 30 to attend graduate school.

“For me, I wanted to have the experience,” he said, “But it really depends on the person.”

Kristina Smith, an MFA candidate at Texas Woman’s University, went to graduate school after a short break.  She said she applied to eight programs but decided to attend Texas Woman’s University because of a teacher she admired.

“She was the type of teacher that I knew I wanted to be someday,” she said, going on to stress how important it is to form a good relationship with your mentor in grad school.

After all, “you’re stuck with them for two or three years,” she laughed.

Another MFA candidate, however, Kat Wilson, said she only applied to one program – at the University of Arkansas.  Wilson said when she was applying (also at age 30 like Wascovich) she was burnt-out.  Therefore, she encouraged students to attend graduate school a little sooner.

“While it’s still fresh, and you’re still hungry,” she added.

Wilson did, however, encouraged students to gain experience outside of the classroom and said that she learned so much more about photography working as a photo assistant for one year than she did in her first four years of college.

Wascovich said his work really changed during graduate school when he realized, “Ok. This is my job.”

He said he learned who he was a person and that he loves photography. The professor told the group that he took about 300 pictures during the 500 mile drive over to Starkville and that he doesn’t really plan to do anything with them except maybe post them to his blog.

“The point is, I love doing it,” he said.  “If I won the lottery, I would buy a new lens. I’m pretty content.”

His advice to students looking to get into MFA programs was to make connections, have a website, get involved and show enthusiasm.  He encouraged them to take advantage of faculty and make appointments to meet with them during their office hours.  He also told students to keep up with faculty after graduation and suggested sending them regular emails with updates and not just emails that ask for something such as letters of recommendation.

He ended with one final bit of advice.

“Your job in school is to find the thing you’re passionate about.”

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