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"I researched several schools and The College of New Rochelle's program impressed me the most. Additionally, when I went to visit The College of New Rochelle, I was quite taken with the beauty of the campus and the warm feeling I received from the staff and students."

Melissa Gusmano
Art Education
Graduate School
The College of New Rochelle


Melissa, tell us something about yourself.

I grew up and still live in Mahopac, a village within the town of Carmel, New York and on the border of Putnam and Westchester Counties. Mahopac is best known for its beautiful lake and reputable school systems. In the summer the lake sparkles in the sunshine and is filled with people on boats and jet skis. My family consists of five people: my mom, dad, two sisters and myself.  My mom is a kindergarten teacher and my dad is in sales. I am the youngest of the three daughters.  My oldest sister Rebecca is finishing her PhD in Clinical Psychology and my other sister, Tami, is a 3rd grade teacher. I am extremely close with my family; my sisters are two of my best friends.           


Where did you go to college for your undergraduate degree?

I actually attended three undergraduate institutions. When I graduated from high school, I really did not know what I wanted to major in so I started taking required liberal arts classes at SUNY Cortland. I stayed at Cortland for two semesters, but realized it wasn't the school for me. Instead of moving directly to another four year school without knowing what I wanted to major in, I decided to take some classes at Westchester Community College in hopes of determining what path I was going to choose. I always loved art, but it was at Westchester Community College that I also found an interest in psychology. I then was granted the presidential scholarship to attend Marymount College of Fordham University. While attending Marymount I had a double majored in Psychology and Studio Art, I found the school that felt like home. 

I had high expectations of the Graduate School. This is my first semester and already my expectations have been met and surpassed. I find the faculty knowledgeable and the classes challenging. The students in my classes automatically seem to have formed a bond.   




Why did you decide to attend The College of New Rochelle?

After I graduated from Marymount of Fordham, I got a job in the Human Resources Department at Nine West Footwear Corporation in White Plains. I worked in Human Resources for two years and while I grew tremendously as a professional and a person, I knew it was not the life-long career I was meant to have. I love working with people and I thought back to my undergraduate days of when I was an academic tutor for students attending Marymount and the satisfaction I received from helping other students learn. Combining that thought with my love of art and strong belief in the importance of art education, I decided I wanted to go back to school to obtain my masters. Once I made this decision, I researched several schools and The College of New Rochelle's program impressed me the most. Additionally, when I went to visit The College of New Rochelle, I was quite taken with the beauty of the campus and the warm feeling I received from the staff and students. 


What is your major?

I am getting my masters in Art Education.


Why did you select teaching as your career? Do you like the age level of students, or teaching allows you to also paint?

I have decided to become an art teacher because of several reasons. One in particular is the strong belief I have that art education is extremely important in every child's education. Another reason is I like working with people, young children and adolescents especially. Additionally, I truly enjoy just being around the creative process, whether I am creating or if I am motivating students to create. I am observing this semester in an elementary art classroom, and I love watching the students create--each one produces something so unique.  


If someone is going for a career that involves art in any way, I think it is important to experiment with as many different types of mediums and techniques as possible. This gives the artist/art teacher a broader range to work in and/or to pass on to their students. It may not be their favorite medium, but it may turn out to be one of their students.



Could you explain, Melissa, that type of art that you do. Do you paint? Do you work in clay?

I double majored as an undergraduate in Studio Art and Psychology. The Studio Art major required that I take a variety of studio classes experimenting with all different types of media. I have had experience in drawing, painting, ceramic sculpture, ceramics on the wheel, and collage. I enjoy each medium for the unique experience it gives me during the process of making art. Since I do not have access to a kiln or a wheel in my house, unless I am taking a class in it, ceramics is the medium I practice the least with. However, I am currently taking ceramics this semester and I find working with clay to be very therapeutic. Most of the experience I have had is in drawing and painting and since I can draw and paint in my own home, those are the techniques I use most frequently. If someone is going for a career that involves art in any way, I think it is important to experiment with as many different types of mediums and techniques as possible. This gives the artist/art teacher a broader range to work in and/or to pass on to their students. It may not be their favorite medium, but it may turn out to be one of their students. I hope to broaden my range by taking photography and jewelry making classes.         


Where do you attend classes?

Most of my classes are in the Mooney Center on the main campus because that is where the art education/studio art/art therapy classes are held.


Do you have any favorite teachers?

I truly enjoy all of my professors as each one brings something unique to my educational experience. One professor that stands out for me this semester is Elizabeth Thompson-Colleary. Beth is my History of Contemporary Art professor and has really broadened my perspective on the art world. She has given me the tools to help establish my personal definition of art. She has given assignments which require students to visit the museums and galleries in New York which I really appreciate. After all, it is a contemporary art history class and New York is the art capital of the world.

If I had to compare The College of New Rochelle to any of the schools I previously attended, it would have to be Marymount of Fordham University. There was a strong feeling of community at Marymount, and I sense that same feeling about The College of New Rochelle.



What has surprised you the most about the Graduate School?

I haven't really been surprised by the Graduate School. Based on my research and my encounters with staff and students during my visit, I had high expectations of the Graduate School. This is my first semester and already my expectations have been met and surpassed. I find the faculty knowledgeable and the classes challenging. The students in my classes automatically seem to have formed a bond.    


Do you have a job on campus?

I am fortunate enough to be a graduate assistant in the Graduate Enrollment office. I work approximately 15 hours per week and in return I am paid a stipend and 30 of my tuition credits are paid for. I couldn't have asked for a better situation. I truly feel lucky. 


When do you expect to graduate?

I expect to graduate in December 2006 or May 2006.  


What are your career plans?

I hope to obtain an art teaching position. As this is only my first semester in the Art Education program, so far I have only observed in elementary schools.  Next semester I will observe in a high school and a middle school setting, and I believe after I have observed in all three settings, I will be able to determine what age range I would like to teach.


You have had a variety of college experiences so it would be interesting to see what you think makes a good campus and school. If you could, compare CNR to the other schools that you attended.

If I had to compare The College of New Rochelle to any of the schools I previously attended, it would have to be Marymount of Fordham University.  I attended Marymount before the collaboration between Marymount and Fordham took place and I was still there when the two schools combined.  Marymount was the third school I attended and it was the one that felt most like home to me. Class size was small and the professors knew the students by name. I was challenged and pushed to grow as a student and a person. I was involved with the school. I worked with professors on their personal research and became an academic tutor on campus. There was a strong feeling of community at Marymount, and I sense that same feeling about The College of New Rochelle. 

To find out if  CNR is the right choice for you, please contact:

Graduate School

Office of the Dean
The College of New Rochelle
29 Castle Place
New Rochelle, NY 10805
914-654-5334  
email: gs@cnr.edu


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