By Marcia Cohn Growdon, ’67 PhD’76
I particularly like the question, how did you find your way into your field. There is a slightly worn saying, life is what happens while you are making other plans. A child of Sputnik, I, like so many others, began to focus on the sciences in high school. I loved biology, which in the early 1960s was still botany and zoology. I came to Stanford as a biology major. But I was also really eager to go to Stanford-in-France. My father, class of ’25, only made one suggestion about my education, which was that to prepare for Europe, I should take the art history survey courses – the same ones he had taken forty years before! So I did that at the beginning of my Sophomore year. I was stunned at how the sweep of visual history appealed to me, and I was equally thrilled at how well I did in the classes. There was a dramatic contrast between how natural the visual arts felt, compared to how I was struggling in organic chemistry and the brand new human biology series. A three-quarter break, with almost eight months in Europe made it clear to me that art history was my future. Three degrees later, I did, suddenly, have to pause again. After helping my husband start a retail computer business, I welcomed an opportunity to be part of the institution that became the Nevada Museum of Art. As a curator, as a director, I had come home. I later taught the “pyramids to Picasso” survey courses at the University of Nevada, Reno. Throughout my career, I loved introducing people to the visual arts. Moral of the story – Stanford offers a sweeping liberal arts education for a good reason. Sample it all and listen to your gut instincts.