Major: Art History and Museum Studies
Sydney Slacas believes art is the most universal form of self-expression and communication that humans have, and, consequently, that the study and understanding of art are access points to humanity.
This belief, combined with a passion for law, compelled her to pursue a dual-degree program at Case Western Reserve to earn her JD and Master of Arts in Art History and Museum Studies.
As the first student at the university to successfully complete this dual-degree track, Slacas is eager to help steward and preserve art and cultural heritage for years to come.
“I’m motivated by the chance to share art with the world and to help others understand why the arts are so vital, not just in the museum but in life,” she explained. “I believe that if everyone embraced the arts the world would be a more empathetic place.”
The JD/MA program Slacas is completing is designed to prepare students for the fields of intellectual property law and the visual arts, and allow them to develop expertise in areas of substantive interest. Only a few universities across the country offer programs similar in style and rigor—but Slacas was undeterred by its difficulty.
“If anything, the reputation of the program only made me more determined to complete it,” she said. “Additionally, I knew that if I finished, it would open the door to more folks like me who are passionate about protecting the arts.”
Pursuing two separate graduate degrees had its challenges. For Slacas, it meant many semesters of unsynchronized academic calendars and, more than once, the need to give presentations, attend class and grade papers during reading week—a time normally clear of those obligations to allow students to study for exams.
Slacas persevered with the help of her colleagues, professors, friends—and the more-than-occasional cup of coffee.
“While it was difficult, enough forethought, planning, dedication and self-care will get you through any tough situation,” said Slacas, who, upon graduating in May, plans to take the bar exam and pursue a career in museum administration or curation.
During her time at CWRU, Slacas was a student representative for both the School of Graduate Studies and the School of Law, and she served on the executive board for the Sports and Entertainment Law Society.
She also co-chaired the 47th Annual Cleveland Symposium and completed internships with the Department of Justice, the Holocaust Art Restitution Project, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the International Foundation for Art Research. Additionally, she worked as a curatorial fellow in contemporary art at the Cleveland Museum of Art.