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Gateway is the community newsletter of Pratt Institute. It is published monthly by the Office of Communications, in the Division of Institutional Advancement. For a list of contributors, click here.

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Friday
Jan172014

Writing Program Pushes Students to Pitch Editors, Publish Essays

Devin Adams (B.F.A. Writing, Class of ’15)It’s a quintessential moment for every young writer—seeing your work published for the first time—and Devin Adams (B.F.A. Writing, Class of ’15) experienced it earlier than most.

On December 19, Adams published an opinion piece in amNewYork, the free weekday daily that is distributed to some 325,000 New Yorkers.  His article, “Life in the camera's eye might be worth the risk,” is a meditation on technology and self-observation. Adams drafted the article in “Writing the Think Piece,” a class taught by Steven Doloff, a distinguished professor of Humanities and Media Studies.

The course requires students to write four complete think pieces—a personal essay or analysis on a thought-provoking topic—during the semester. The goal is to produce original, professional-level pieces that may ultimately land in print. Each student proposes several ideas in class, and Doloff tries to simulate the experience of working with a professional editor.

“I tell my students I’m going to play editor,” says Doloff. “And if you’re suggesting something to me, I’m often going to tell you: ‘I’ve seen this. I’ve heard of this.’”

The accepted ideas go through four to five drafts, and if an essay is particularly strong, Doloff instructs the writer to submit it to a publication. He’s specific. He’ll suggest The New York Times, amNewYork, or wherever he thinks an article may fit. 

“He wants us to know that our work is publishable,” Adams says about his professor. “At the beginning of the semester, he really pushed that: submitting is important.”

Of course, most of the best student pieces—all loaded with good ideas sculpted into a punchy 750 words—don't end up in print. But the course provides students with a valuable skill nonetheless.Devin Adams’s opinion piece that was published in amNY

“This shows potential employers you know how to write,” says Doloff. “It’s another arrow in your professional quiver—how to write clear, catchy prose.”

The Writing Program, established in 1999, prides itself on this training, which also includes a key introductory course focusing on grammar and word usage, according to Thad Ziolkowski, the program’s head.

“They’re learning to write a good sentence,” says Ziolkowski. “There’s a cult of ‘choosing the right word.’”

The Writing Program attracts talented faculty, and two of its professors—David Gordon and Ellery Washington—recently published articles in The New York Times.

After Adams' piece was accepted, the “real-world” aspect of the course kicked in: his publication date was postponed and he anxiously awaited news from his editor.

“It was nerve-wracking,” he says. “It’s just such a busy industry. I was sitting by the phone, trying to remind myself that this is an editor, who is a busy man with a lot going on.”

But soon after, the piece came out, and Adams experienced the thrill of knowing anyone could be reading his work.

“My dad went to get a haircut. It turns out the person at the salon had read it, and said: ‘oh it was a really good article,’” says Adams. “That was sweet.”

Text: Ruth Samuelson
Image of Devin Adams: Peter Tannenbaum

Thursday
Jan162014

Pratt Fetes Distinguished Graduates at 2014 Alumni Achievement Awards

L-R (top to bottom): Jennifer Wen Ma, Laura Bohn, Adam Selman, Bruce Newman, Goulda Downer, Albert Konetzni

On March 20, the Pratt Institute 2014 Alumni Achievement Awards will be presented to six accomplished alumni at a private luncheon held in Manhattan.

The awards recognize outstanding graduates who have distinguished themselves in their fields, who have earned a high degree of respect among their colleagues and in the general community, and whose impact has been felt on a regional, national, or international level. The award winners were chosen by a committee of similarly accomplished professionals—most past Alumni Achievement Award honorees—who reviewed all nominations received.

 “This is an excellent opportunity to not only honor esteemed alumni, but highlight important role models for our current students,” said Michael Sclafani, director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. 

This year, Alumni Achievement Awards will be presented to:

  • Laura Bohn (B.F.A. Interior Design ’77), Distinguished Career Award, for creating work that resonates with Pratt’s values of aesthetic judgment, professional knowledge, collaborative skill, and technical expertise. Bohn is a member of the Interior Design Hall of Fame.
  • Goulda Downer (B.S. Nutrition & Dietetics ’84), Community Commitment Award, for her outstanding and significant contributions to society through her professional involvement in strengthening the Human Immunodeficiency Virus clinical workforce across the country.
  • Albert Konetzni (Certified Illustrator ’35), Lifetime Achievement Award, for living Pratt’s values of aesthetic judgment, professional knowledge, collaborative skill, and technical expertise and making lasting contributions to society. Konetzni served as longtime art director at Disney.
  • Bruce Newman (B.F.A. Interior Design ’53), Distinguished Service Award, for his tireless professional activity, philanthropic support, and service that has made outstanding and significant contributions to the Institute. Newman, a Trustee Emeritus, is responsible for initiating and supporting a multi-year campus beautification project, which has included brick-paved pathways and landscaping projects.
  • Adam Selman (B.F.A. Fashion Design ’04), Early Career Award, for his work as a designer and stylist to pop superstars—including Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Britney Spears—which has earned him distinction in the early stages of his career while demonstrating tremendous future potential.
  • Jennifer Wen Ma (M.F.A. Fine Arts’99), International Career Award, for her work as an award-winning international artist who lives Pratt’s values of aesthetic judgment, professional knowledge, collaborative skill, and technical expertise to making lasting contributions to society. Wen Ma was chief designer for visual and special effects at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Text: Ruth Samuelson
Photo of Adam Selman: Kevin Tachma
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Wednesday
Jan152014

Free Prattfolio App Is Released on iTunes

Now there is a way to gain on-the-go access to Pratt’s premier alumni magazine, Prattfolio—the new iPad app that is available for free download on iTunes.

Released on January 10, the new Prattfolio app includes all of the content contained in Prattfolio’s print and online editions. It also offers additional material and interactive features, from animated titles to slideshows to embedded video. The result is an enhanced experience that brings Prattfolio to life in a whole new way.

Pratt’s award-winning Creative Services team, which designs the print and online editions of Prattfolio, received special training from Adobe to create the app. The design and development process took several months to complete.

Developing the app gave the designers an opportunity to expand their digital skills and to be inspired by the potential of interactive technology.

“It’s exciting to think on a more interactive level about how users can explore animation and video, and engage with the content,” said Joshua Graver, creative director, Office of Communications and Marketing.

With the arrival of the iPad version, Prattfolio is now available in three formats: print, online, and the app.

Text: Marion Hammon