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Graduating student thrives in cross-disciplinary digital culture program

November 30, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates.

Michelle Migliaccio is graduating with a BA in digital culture with a focus on interdisciplinary arts and performance. Photo by Tim Madril

Geology. Dance. Math. Michelle Migliaccio has a lot of interests. When the White Plains, New York, native started college she double majored in geology and dance and minored in math, but only found her true passion when she transferred to ASU as a digital culture student in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering.

“I still do love science and am fascinated by the Earth and just how massive and ancient its existence is, but splitting my time between something more objective, despite being investigative like geology, and working in the creative and artistic field of dance was taxing on me,” she said. “I decided to leave school because it stopped feeling beneficial to me."

During her year off, she continued studying dance at a local college and a professor recommended ASU.

“I applied here on a whim because I felt burnt out and without direction,” said Migliaccio, who is graduating with a BA in digital culture with a concentration in interdisciplinary arts and performance. “I wanted something more cross-disciplinary, and I found the digital culture program. It was something completely new, and I knew it was what I wanted.”

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

Answer: I learned that it is important to keep constantly creating. Just the process of following through with an idea, and creating the space for constant development of ideas in important for growth.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU specifically for the digital culture program and because it was recommended to me as a school. I didn't feel like I should apply anywhere else; it was just a gut feeling.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: One of the lessons that has stuck was given to me by Theresa Devine, and it was about having conviction and getting your art out there. She helped guide me on how to use my intelligence and voice to create a space for myself in the arts. She constantly reminded me to keep creating, keep searching for spaces to show, and I think that type of individual focus that she showed me how to apply to myself is one of the most important things I have learned in school. She taught me lessons about being — being myself with my work and to keep pushing for space for that.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: It would probably be to actually talk to your professors. I was lucky enough to have professors who reached out to me and learned about me through my writings and creations, so that they could help guide me. I'm generally stubborn, so approaching professors was something I struggled with, but their knowledge goes so much further than the material they teach, and many of my professors have helped me identify my influences and organic practices that distinguish me as an artist. They helped me get to a place where I felt comfortable calling myself an artist.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: My favorite spot would be probably be the Secret Garden.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I would like to get an MFA in something along the lines of interdisciplinary digital art. This year and a half after graduation, I really want to cultivate a strong portfolio to achieve that goal. I would like to work designing performance spaces and creating interactive art, in a live or museum setting.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: If given $40 million I would like to tackle the issue of depleting drinkable/usable water. I'm not sure how much of a dent $40 million would make globally; it could potentially be used to restructure agricultural policies in developed countries where most of the food production goes to waste.

samccar5@asu.edu