Alumni Spotlight

From UCLA to AUF: RT Reflects on His Past Three Years Spent at AUF

Robert Thompson, more commonly referred to as RT, started his undergraduate studies in Photography in the United States. Originally from New York, RT went to three different universities around the U.S., including the University of California, Los Angeles known as UCLA, Westchester Community College, and Johnson & Wales University. During his time at Johnson & Wales University, he went on a study abroad program through FUA-AUF.


Within the first week of being in Florence for his study abroad semester, he knew this was where he wanted to be. Thus, leading him to drop out of Johnson & Wales University and apply to be a full-time student at AUF. 


One of the main reasons that contributed to being a full-time student was the open mindedness of the faculty at AUF. Compared to the style of universities he attended in the U.S., where the faculty had one way that they wanted students to get to a conclusion, the faculty at AUF welcomed other viewpoints and listened to students while still challenging their ideas.


“I think my relationships, particularly with the staff of the University, have really benefited me a lot,” Thompson said. “One professor who became my mentor was David Weiss, and he really was the first professor in my educational career to actually try and reach out and say let's see what it is that you’re trying to say and do."


The faculty's approach to student development helped nurture and illuminate different perspectives in RT’s work. Instead of being faced with immediate backlash from a professor at AUF, RT was faced with questions of why he got to these conclusions. It allowed for RT to flush out his thoughts and concepts, enabling him to identify both flaws and successes in his work.


The pressure that professors put on students isn’t meant to shut them down, but to teach them how to be able to convey ideas and thoughts in work environments where people are going to challenge them. This fosters a welcoming atmosphere for all ideas and concepts, enabling students to empathize with others, whether they agree or disagree.


“The school really does good with that because it allows the student to openly express right or wrong ideas and not be shot down or overly praised but just have human acknowledgement and interaction and be able to actually, personally be able to relate to the students and teachers. To create a good and healthy relationship,” said RT.


Due to the support of faculty at AUF, RT will continue his education at the Royal College of Art in London. He’s excited to not only develop his work in photography, but to learn other mediums, like textile work. Additionally, he hopes to continue exploring an interceptive space for himself in order to better understand how to create spaces for others in the future.

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