When Nicole Vlado came to MIT in 1998 from New York, she assumed her creativity would flourish at the Institute in what she then called "art" - music, writing, and visual arts - as she worked towards her S.B. in architecture.
Now the newly appointed Program Coordinator for Special Programs in the Office of the Arts looks back in wonder at what four years in the techno-capital have wrought.
"I was unaware of the huge effect knowledge, technology, and MIT culture would have on my personal and artistic growth," said Vlado, Class of 2002, whose plugged-in undergraduate activities included work as a hip-hop DJ and the radio show Lyrical Manifestations on WMBR.
Vlado thanks growing up in New York for her capacity to appreciate and transform her MIT experience into innovative written and visual works.
"While MIT is very different than Manhattan, the intensity of MIT can be likened to the energy of the city," she said. "As a teenager and as part of a diverse, underground hip-hop subculture, I learned the importance of expression.
"Now I have grown comfortable here while being continually challenged and inspired. I am excited to remain at MIT for a little longer. Joining the Office of the Arts will help me continue to grow. I am very fortunate to have this opportunity."
Michele Oshima, director of Special Programs in MIT's Office of the Arts, was "thrilled" to announce Vlado's appointment, which was effective Sept.1.
"Nicole brings a breadth of experience in the Arts at MIT. She is an ideal person to encourage collaboration and creativity between undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, staff and visiting artists," said Oshima.
Vlado will be working equally on Artists-in-Residence and on student initiatives, including the Freshman Arts Seminar Advising Program, Council Scholars in the Arts, and the List Foundation Fellowship for Students of Color.
Vlado's work in the arts focuses on "identity politics, an important topic at a diverse university such as MIT. I do writing, printmaking, and collage, creating works that react to thought and experience," she said.
Vlado has already received wide recognition for her work in various media. Her grants and awards include the Faculty Design Award for Excellence in Studio Design; a Committee on Campus Race Relations Grant for "constructing history;" a Council for the Arts, Director's Grant for "constructing history;" Schnitzer Student Art Award 2002, Honorable Mention; the Ilona Karmel Writing Prize and 2nd place for "nyc ghosts", 2001. Vlado was a member of the 2001-02 MIT Slam Poetry team and received MIT Office of Minority Education Academic Honors, 1999-2002.