Q&A: The journey of a non-traditional student 

Posted by Vicki Cook on Apr 9, 2018 1:42:24 PM


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Not every student takes the same path when they enroll to study at WMU, Vicki Cook is a current student in the Frostic School of Art and is considered a "non-traditional" student. Obtaining a technical degree after high school, working as an electronics technician, raising a family, becoming a full-time professional artist, and now returning to college to gain an additional Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in Metals/Jewelry , Vicki demonstrates that it's never too late to pursue your dreams and learn new things. Learn more about her journey below. 

Tell us about yourself. what's your story in a nutshell?

I was raised in Southwest Ohio, moved to Michigan after high school, went to college for a technical degree, worked as an electronics technician, got married, raised 3 daughters. All this time I have always made things, studied about art and how to make things.

WHAT is your favorite part about WMU's art program?

The interaction with the studio instructors and the other students, the day-to-day critique from them is invaluable. This interaction progresses design and creative development rapidly but also thoughtfully.

What did you do prior to studying at WMU?

For the last 12 years I have been a full-time working artist, I pieced together my career from several different angles simultaneously. Lark books and Kalmbach Publications both hired me to write several step-by-step tutorials based on my original jewelry designs and techniques developed as well as photograph the process images. I taught jewelry/small metals techniques at local art centers. I produced and sold my work through my studio, museums, galleries and art shows through-out the Midwest.

What was the biggest hardship you faced being a non-traditional student? 

Justifying to myself the “extravagance” of going back to school full time when I could be earning a living to be better financially prepared for retirement.


What is your favorite part about being a non-traditional student? 

The feeling of being fully immersed and engaged in something that interests me and learning that my focus is much more intense now than it was when I was in college just after high school.


What has been your favorite piece you've created thus far?

Metals/Jewelry Professor Autumn Brown asked us to explore the concept of protection, develop a project based on our ideas and to use some specific techniques to implement it. I made a large hollow-form metal brooch, that is filled with these enormous thorns of a tree from the farm where I grew up. I was able to practice some new techniques and mechanisms that I hadn’t done before.
Brooch that Vicki designed and createdBrooch that Vicki designed and created

WHAT ARE THE MIDDLE AGES? What do you like to do in your free time?

Ha! Study or make things. Go to art exhibits. And I like to bicycle long distances.

What are you most looking forward to in the future? 

Making more work and learning new things.
 Vicki spending her free time at an art exhibition

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Topics: The Student Experience, Frostic School of Art, Richmond Center for Visual Arts

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