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Zoe Gadsden '15: Creatively Intelligent

Arts management major Zoé Gadsden '15 has just completed her first year at Purchase, achieving a 4.03 grade point average. When in the classroom, she's engaged, and while at her part-time job at the Neuberger Museum of Art, she's poised and diligent. In the fall, she plans to declare a second major, economics, and will also serve as a resident assistant. Gadsden possesses that particular blend of intellect and diverse talents that Purchase College proudly attracts.

Born and raised in Vienna, Austria, Zoé Gadsden grew up surrounded by the arts. Her father a composer, her mother an art historian, and her sister a fine artist—it's no surprise she's pursuing a career in arts management. "The arts are an integral force in all of culture and society. I want to be a part of distributing them, even if I'm not creating them," she remarked.

Scan the list of her accomplishments and a picture emerges of a multi-talented young woman unafraid to express herself through myriad means. Documentary filmmaking, painting and sculpting, event planning, modeling, performing, and doing voice overs are just some of the areas Gadsden has explored. The picture is incomplete however without considering her equally impressive academic achievements.

The demanding curriculum of GRg Draschestrasse, the Vienna bilingual school Gadsden attended for both middle and high school, requires students to enroll in 50 hours of elective modules (not unlike a university structure) that build toward a "specification." She graduated with dual specifications in human and social sciences, and natural sciences. All classes are taught in both English and German, so even complex subjects such as physics and chemistry must be learned in not one, but two languages. Several days each week students attend classes from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Despite the challenging schedule, she earned a high school diploma with the distinction "high achievement."

In 2007, Gadsden spent six months in New York at the German School, not far from the Purchase campus. She decided to move to New York and only returned to Austria long enough to finish her high school requirements. It was clear to her where she wished to pursue her college career.

Citing the impressive faculty, small class size, and comfortable environment as factors in selecting Purchase, she was particularly drawn to the "community feel" of the campus despite it's close proximity to New York City.

 "The reason I applied to Purchase was the arts management program," Gadsden recalls. "I did research on the faculty and decided that in combination with the school's location, I wanted to come to college here. I'm not quite sure what specific field I want to go into after graduation, but I'm optimistic that by working together with my teachers and advisors I will find the most clear and beneficial path soon."

Peter Polinski, assistant director of the Advising Center and her instructor in college writing and freshman seminar, noted, "Zoé Gadsden possesses a rare intellectual curiosity that is extraordinary for an undergraduate student.  I was impressed with her hard work, remarkably strong critical writing skills, and high intellectual achievement."

Gadsden further confides that Purchase was the only school in the States to which she applied. No other school so close to New York City could provide the combination of courses, class size, and community she found here. What would have happened if she wasn't accepted? "I was glad I was not confronted with not getting in. I would have stayed in Europe and just enrolled at university in philosophy or economics."

Assistant Professor of Economics Cedric Ceulemans recalls Gadsden's active participation in class, "Coming from Austria, her comments on cultural or economic policy during class discussions were often the starting point of interesting student debate." He further believes her decision to double major in economics is "…courageous and smart. A strong background in economics will be very beneficial as her career plans develop."

Polinski added further, "Zoé's work ethic will take her places." For now, Gadsden is back home in Vienna, working at a public relations firm for the summer.

Referring to both her summer job and her future role as a resident assistant, she says, "I am completely excited by both of these opportunities and look forward not only to an enjoyable and productive summer, but also to an interesting and dynamic start to the new semester." 

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