Not many people can say that the fate of their academic career was decided at a street demonstration, unless you are Victoria Marcano

A folded piece of paper passed in the midst of a street demonstration changed the entire trajectory of Victoria Marcano’s life.

In her Venezuelan high school, she was one of the lucky ones. With an early acceptance letter and a full-ride scholarship to a local university, Marcano’s future was a lot more secure than those struggling under the deep economic crisis in her home country.

Still, her father was unsure about the future at home — after all, the very demonstration he was attending was to protest against rising inflation and food scarcity. The piece of paper that his friend had handed to him during the demonstration was a link to a college program in Germany.

“Tell your daughter to apply. This is an opportunity,” his friend told him.

A series of applications, tests, and discussions later, Marcano decided to leave and finish her high school education in Germany. Now looking back, she knows the decision to leave Venezuela was the right one. It was in Germany that her school counselor suggested attending NYU Abu Dhabi.

I decided to follow my intuition and take this J-Term class in Florence. It was so transforming.

Victoria Marcano, Class of 2023

Marcano has always been scientifically inclined but has a love of art inherited from her painter father. When choosing her first-year courses, she discovered a range of classes in art history and museum studies that resonated with her. She was not sure how to keep her interest in the arts alive, as she embarked on a science track.

“I decided to follow my intuition and take this J-Term class in Florence. It was so transforming,” said Marcano, who in the end majored in Art History and Psychology. Most of the Museum history, theory, and practice: Case study Florence classes took place in the countless museums in Florence. The intensity of J-Term not only connected Marcano to the city on a personal level, but also made her fall more deeply in love with the field. The coursework on location proved her talent for the arts.

Marcano will be pursuing a Master’s in Heritage Studies at the University of Cambridge after graduation. Reflecting on how a serendipitous encounter between her father and his high school friend led her to where she is today, Marcano is excited for her road ahead. “It’s sometimes good to just sit back and let yourself just be surprised because things are going to work out eventually.”