The visual image is an important part of human communication, as it reflects ideas, values, and issues—in some cases, displacing words and text altogether. No one appreciates this more than Juan Alvarez Valentin ’15, whose undergraduate training lies at the nexus of the liberal arts and professional studies.
A recent graduate of Syracuse University, Alvarez is a dual major in art history in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) and in television, radio, and film in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He hopes to parlay his interest in all things visual into a career in law, perhaps involving communications or intellectual property.
“Eventually I see myself becoming a professor, so I may share my love and knowledge of media with everyone, but for now I am focused on media law” says the native of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Alvarez credits Gary M. Radke ’73, a recently retired Dean’s Professor of the Humanities and art history professor in A&S, for sparking his interest in teaching—specifically, art, history, and culture. His praise for the teacher-scholar is effusive, peppered with adjectives such as “compassionate” and “caring.”
“When I grow older, I want to be just like him,” says Alvarez, adding that, even into retirement, Radke seems to be “always learning and teaching.” “Professor Radke is not just a brilliant professor; he’s a good person who is all heart.”
Central New York may seem a world apart for Alvarez, who was raised amid the sun-kissed beaches of the Caribbean. In high school, Alvarez was a successful student-athlete, serving as class president, goalkeeper of the soccer team, and a member of the environmental club.
It was Alvarez’s desire to “break out of his comfort zone” that ultimately drove him to the University. Almost immediately, he threw himself into his studies, in addition to working on the Spanish news program, “CitrusTV noticias en espanol.” Alvarez was also a participant and contributor in a student production that won first place in a national campus TV competition for their video “Boeheimian Rhapsody,” lampooning Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
His Syracuse experience culminated with an art history thesis on 20th-century American sculptor James Earle Fraser; a media management capstone project; and master’s level research on the role of emotion in Chan Art of the Middle Period, a type of Buddhist Chinese painting.
“There are things that I will probably always like,” he says, alluding London’s Arsenal Football Club and the 1966 war film The Battle of Algiers. “But Syracuse is at the top of the list. … Being here has been a lucrative experience, academically, culturally, and otherwise. I can’t think of a better place to have begun my formal training.”