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ITALIC Cantor Event, June 9, 2015 by Rob Searcey via SALLIE

My ITALIC Story: Nikki Tran

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ITALIC Cantor Event, June 9, 2015 by Rob Searcey via SALLIE


Much to the chagrin of those around me, when I found out that I was accepted into the Immersion in the Arts: Living in Culture program (ITALIC), I couldn’t stop gushing to anyone who would listen – my parents, my brother, my grandma, my friends, my friends’ mothers – that I was going to be living and learning with 44 other students in a yearlong arts program. Thereafter, I began to map out my Stanford career with fervor, creating Excel sheets and four year plans. However, my excitement quickly turned into worry. Although throughout high school I wore the title “theater kid” with pride and loved to write, I was unsure of how these interests would fit into my then goal of doubling major in English and biology and minoring in Spanish. I had too many units and too little time, and this additional art class seemed to be indulgent, or so I thought.

I decided to stick with ITALIC, reasoning that the class would allow me to both pursue my interests while fulfilling many of the WAYS requirements. Who would’ve known that ITALIC would lead me to Alcatraz where I’d see an exhibit by Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei or to downtown Los Angeles where I’d walk the streets of Skid Row in the morning and watch a performance at the Disney Concert Hall in the evening. ITALIC took me to many places inside the classroom as well. In lecture, we learned about and analyzed all forms of art, from Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème to American rapper Kendrick Lamar’s “u,” from comic books to choreographing empathy. These lectures prompted discussions that spilled outside of the classroom, and luckily for us, our ITALIC professors and lecturers stayed for lunch and for conversation.

Still, beyond the field trips and faculty, what I value most about my time with ITALIC was the talented community of student artists I was fortunate enough to meet and befriend. Even though we all had different goals and anticipated majors (CS, pre-meds, art history), we joked that everyone in ITALIC either knew how to draw or play the piano. And what sweet music we did make (sometimes even after quiet hours). We flew drones for a final project; we watched a TAPS production where almost half the cast was from ITALIC; we invaded In-n-Out on our way to the Keith Haring exhibit at the de Young; we harmonized on bus rides to San Francisco; we challenged not only each others’ outlooks on art, but also how we view the world at large; we snapped like Beat poets in appreciation.

ITALIC allowed me to more than just satisfy some general education requirements. It exposed me to a variety of art forms and, most importantly, it gave me a support system of faculty and friends. My goals have changed, my stance on what makes good and bad art has changed, but choosing to stick with ITALIC remains one of the best decisions I made during my freshman year. 

Nikki Tran

Prospective English Major
Class of 2018

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