Alumni Profile: Greg Skiano A’12
This profile appeared originally in the CUAA August 2012 Newsletter
The Cooper Union Alumni Association presents Service to the School Awards to graduates who have demonstrated exemplary service and leadership to the Cooper Union during their time of students. Greg Skiano, A’12, received one of the awards. We interviewed him for the newsletter.
Greg Skiano, A’12
What did you find most challenging about attending Cooper Union?
For me, the School of Art’s structure (or lack there of) challenged me to think about who I wanted to become and what I wanted from my education. During my four years at Cooper, I was provided freedom to enroll in the classes I wanted, and to construct my time how I saw fit, and that freedom was petrifying. It is one thing when someone shows me a hoop and tells me to jump through it, but Cooper refused to give me a hoop. I had to begin setting my own standards and determining my own way. When I graduated from high school, I never expected freedom to be the hardest part of college, but now I am so grateful it was because that freedom is exactly what made Cooper such a vibrant learning experience.
….. and what did you find most rewarding?
Acquiring skills to make things people can really respond to was tremendously rewarding because it helped me see how I could find happiness and fulfillment in what I do professionally.
What was your academic focus while you attended Cooper Union?
I focused mainly on Graphic Design and Printmaking, but I also enjoyed photography.
Was it difficult to make the time to volunteer in the community and at Cooper Union while you completed your studies? How did you prioritize?
To be honest, I never had a sense of community outside of Cooper. My first priority, for better or worse, was always school. Looking back, I think volunteering in the community would have helped me grow a lot, and I always admired my peers who gave time to the community beyond Cooper.
Do you have any advice for incoming students at Cooper Union?
To get the most out of Cooper, I believe you have to embrace process. Being fixated on a product can really hamper the opportunity to learn. Process requires letting go of a lot, but in the end, the benefits outweigh out the costs.
What would you like the Alumni Association to know about your graduating class?
The Class of 2012 was deeply affected by the financial problems that came to light during the course of our senior year. One of the positive experiences for us during all the drama was witnessing the dedication of many alumni who devoted so much of their time, energy, and resources protecting an experience they valued so much that they were willing to fight for its preservation for future students.
What are your next steps (professionally and personally) now that you’ve completed Cooper Union?
The next step for me is shifting my mentality from being a student, to being a professional. Its hard to move on when so much of my energy was devoted to finding my place in a school environment, so I hope to find jobs and opportunities that will push me out of my comfort zone.
If you had the chance, what would you say to Peter Cooper today?
“Hey Pete, we could really use a heavy dose of visionary leadership right now because we cannot keep relying on your vision alone to support us. Got any suggestions?”