After working on award winning projects with clients including: AT&T, Global Finance and Runner’s World Magazine, Cindy Buckley Koren could not resist the calling to return to Upstate NY in order to teach and raise her family. She established two successful B.O.C.E.S. vocational programs in Visual Communications and is currently professor of Communications Design at PrattMWP College of Art and Design. Her students’ work is routinely recognized in the U.S. and abroad. As a featured speaker at the inaugural TEDx Utica, she challenged today’s educational institutions to stop being “instistupid” and “do stuff that matters.”
HOW AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO MAKE EDUCATION A MEANINGFUL PART OF YOUR CAREER?
Thirty-five years ago, I informed my high school Commercial Art teacher that I wanted to be a teacher – just like her. She told me I was too talented to be a teacher, so I studied advertising and design, got my BFA, and moved to the Big Apple. When I returned to the Mohawk Valley, I was invited to teach a college design course. That was it – I committed myself to becoming a full time educator. Looking back, I am grateful that I did not take a traditional route in education because I believe my professional experience has fostered my students’ successful placement in this creative and competitive field. Annie Leibovitz’s studio, Pentagram, NBC, and Apple are just a few places where you can find my former students.
IS THERE A SPECIAL CHALLENGE TO EDUCATING STUDENTS IN 2017 IN LIGHT OF TODAY’S CULTURE OR ECONOMICS OR TECHNOLOGY OR POLITICS OF THIS MOMENT?
From letterpress to mobile apps, you would be hard pressed to find a field that has undergone as many paradigm shifts as Communications Design. The biggest challenge we have as design professors is finding ways to make every lesson relevant in a world where technology moves faster than curriculum and students are graduating into salaries that do not add up to their student loan debt. I encourage students to make the best of their education and I challenge all college administrators and professors to provide an experience that is worth the tuition price.
PHOTOGRAPH: Joe Owens, student, PrattMWP, is currently interning with Annie Leibovitz