Julie DiDomencio came to Columbia in 2007 as a transfer student from a community college in Cleveland, Ohio. “The small photography program there was great,” she says. “I grew a lot and had many opportunities, but it was time to move on. I knew I wanted to be in a big city. I wanted to study photography but also had an interest in cultural studies. I came upon Columbia and was really interested in the type of facilities they offered—both digital and traditional labs. I also really like Chicago, so it worked out.”
Julie was among the first cohort of students chosen to receive assistance through Columbia’s new matching-fund initiative, Scholarship Columbia. Julie applied and received a scholarship to fund her study abroad experience in Shanghai, China. She traveled with students from a variety of majors on an international educational adventure.
“For 12 days we ran around Shanghai looking at art, architecture, history, and the culture of the city. We met with amazing people and artists working on really interesting projects in China. And we made friends with really kind Chinese students and ate the best Chinese food I’ve ever had.” Julie and the other students kept a blog about the experience.
“I knew paying for the Shanghai course would be difficult, but also knew it would be a once in a lifetime experience,” she says of her decision to pursue the scholarship. “Columbia has given me many opportunities, from working in a museum to studying abroad. My creative passions have coincided with the things I enjoy, and being here has given me the opportunity to do things that I never thought I would.”
As a Columbia student, Julie’s study abroad experience was an exciting addition to an already vibrant urban education. She explains, “There is constantly something going on in Chicago. Columbia has everything that I had desired when looking for undergraduate schools—facilities that would allow me to continue to learn about photography and the range of processes that a photograph can be made.”
She also notes how different areas of the college, and even the entire city, work together to expand the educational experience. “I took a Beat literature class,” she says, “and during that semester the Center for Book and Paper Arts had Jack Kerouac’s On the Road scroll on display, as well as many other events talking about the Beat generation. I always seem to be in a class or engulfed by many events that reflect each other.”
“Being Columbia means being passionate and driven,” she says. “It means making things happen.”
Gallery: Photographs by Julie DiDomenico