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I want to show other Asian and Indian-Americans that they can be more creative in communications fields.

Mika Deshmukh, Duke Class of 2019
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Mika Deshmukh explains the art-making activity to a visitor during the Royal Flush: Nina Chanel Abney exhibition opening. Photo by J Caldwell.

Rising junior Mika Deshmukh, who grew up in in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, was sure she wanted to be a chemist, all through high school. Mika also knew she wanted to attend an East Coast university, and Duke seemed a perfect fit. Her parents were happy that she chose a STEM major.

When Mika arrived at Duke in fall 2015, she acclimated quickly and did well in her science and math classes. She also realized she felt jealous of friends majoring in art history.

“I was capable of doing it all, but I was not passionate about it,” she said. “I wanted to be studying something every day where I’m engaged and interested.”
In her free time, Mika noticed, she read about fashion. A lot. It was easy for Mika to pick a new double major: visual and media studies and romance studies (French and Spanish). It was not so easy to tell her parents. Turned out, her parents were very supportive of Mika’s decision, she said. “STEM isn’t for everyone.”
After two years at Duke, Mika’s favorite class so far has been Theories of Visual and Media Studies, taught by Mark Olson, Cordelia and William Laverack Family Assistant Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies.
“Something we don’t realize is how we’re constantly being bombarded by images and media,” she said. “Through that class, I learned to be a critical viewer and consumer.”

Last semester, Mika’s art interests led her to take the internship class at the Nasher Museum, where she worked in the marketing department. There, she said, she found that marketing is a lot like storytelling.

“I think art is very human,” she said. “It’s a manifestation of human expression and emotion and experience.”

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