'One of my first art history courses helped me discover my passion for Indigenous studies'

Noah Rice

History of Art
Minneapolis, Minn. 

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?         

I will never forget what it was like to come back to Cornell sophomore year and see the quads and streets of campus flooded with students. As someone who came to Cornell first during Covid, I had a very different welcome to campus. Sophomore year, we began to return to normalcy and to see all of the students (still masked and social distancing) really brought campus alive. I remember feeling really excited then for my next three years in such a vibrant space.

What are the most valuable skills you gained from your Arts & Sciences education?      

Arts & Sciences allowed me the freedom to explore the many facets of my interests. While art history was my primary major, I had the ability to engage with my other interests in religious studies and Indigenous studies. I found my interests often overlapping and sought the intersections between disciplines, both in terms of how I was thinking and engaging the material/sources. As a result, I feel that my educational journey benefited from the richness of opportunity that as an A&S student I was able to capitalize on.   

What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of?

person walking in a field

My study abroad was a defining period in my college experience. I had the privilege of spending my junior spring at the University of Oxford and while there I was challenged in new ways. Not only was adapting to a new environment a great experience, but also school itself was a big change. I had to learn how to learn in a new, more independent way than I had ever before. This type of educational experience really pushed me to grow academically and personally in important ways that have influenced my trajectory today. This abroad experience also ties into one of my most proud accomplishments at Cornell. This past year I have been working on a senior honors thesis in history of art. Any research project and piece of writing at the magnitude of a senior thesis is daunting and quite the commitment. Studying at Oxford, for me, really helped me lay the groundwork for successfully working on such a large independent project. This thesis has taught me a lot about my research interests, but has also showed me what is possible by giving me the confidence that I could have a longer career in academia.

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most?     

Prof. Jolene Rickard has been very influential throughout my time at Cornell. She was my professor for one of my very first art history courses and through that course really helped me discover my passion for Indigenous studies. After that course, Prof. Rickard has been a mentor and one of my biggest supporters here at Cornell, writing many letters of recommendations for study abroad and grad schools. Recently, Prof. Rickard has also served as my honors thesis advisor. In this role, she has been a critical guide through the intersections of Indigenous studies and art history, teaching me so much and exposing me to a wealth of scholarship I had previously not explored. Without her teaching and support throughout my four years at Cornell I would almost certainly be in a very different position, and for that I am immeasurably thankful.

Where do you dream to be in 10 years?

My goal for 10 years from now is to have graduated from law school and to be practicing as an attorney in the Federal Indian law and Tribal affairs space. I do not know what that will look like yet, and there are a lot of steps left for me to get there, but I am excited for what the next few years bring and how life will evolve.

Every year, our faculty nominate graduating Arts & Sciences students to be featured as part of our Extraordinary Journeys series. Read more about the Class of 2024.

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Noah RIce