Incoming 2016 Part Three

POSTED ON: August 29, 2016

In the last of our series on the newest students to arrive at The Cooper Union [see parts one and two], we meet Brandy Vasquez, Gunnar Kortenbach and Gertrude Dabo. We asked each of them how they chose their field of study, what brought them to The Cooper Union and what they have been up to during the summer.

Brandy VasquezBrandy Vasquez
Brooklyn, NY

I became interested in architecture around sophomore year of high school when I had to select a major at Brooklyn Tech. I liked the projects I saw and was interested in the construction aspect. I wanted something creative but also something that gave some knowledge of other fields, so architecture was the way to go. 

I did two different courses that The Cooper Union offered through the Saturday Program. One was Architecture, the other was Portfolio Prep. They are one of the reasons why I found out about The Cooper Union. I decided to attend because my time there made me feel like it was the right fit for me. I felt at home.

I want to learn as much as I can, to be able to get a better understanding of architecture and along the way have people I can connect with and share the experience with.

Right now I'm interning at Mancini Duffy doing CAD and Revit projects.

Gunnar KortenbachGunnar Kortenbach
Miami, Florida

All my life I have been walled in and encircled by old and unique objects. So coincidentallly or maybe intentionally, I'm drawn to obsolete, differently made items. I try to make art that is as bold and well conceived as the things I amass. I have pulled 1990s computers out of yard waste piles, books out of dumpsters, and (13) hubcaps out of roadside ditches. I practice the act of accumulation in my digital and real-world art processes, whether it’s text messages or mustard spoons, jpeg images or floppy disks. 

I chose The Cooper Union out of all the others because of its distinguished history and ideology. I genuinely appreciate things with a storied past, and Peter Cooper’s biggest contribution to the disciplines of Art, Architecture and Engineering delivers on that. It is hard to find any institution that is so profoundly different and creative in its mission.

I eagerly look forward to exploring what this school and this huge city full of crazed/interesting people have to offer. I am…totally not…looking forward to doing touristy NYC things, eating authentic (and questionably trendy in 2016) cronuts, and very low-key stalking New York-based icons.

This summer I accumulated a veritable mountain of amazing vintage jackets I cannot possibly pack in a suitcase (or wear during the humid Miami summer); tended to chickens who cannot love me back, no matter how much food I hand feed them to gobble down their greedy little bird throats; and worked at my family’s wonderful vintage store full of beautiful things I cannot actually buy right now! I promise I’ll pay for all the things I took, Mom!

Gertrude DaboGertrude Dabo
New York City by way of Ghana

My parents have always encouraged me to pursue a career in the medical field. However, for most of my preteen and early teen-age years I wanted a career in accounting or business. It was not until I entered high school that I decided to study engineering. As a freshman in high school, I joined the robotics team. It was the very first time that I was exposed to engineering, which sparked my interest, and I knew it was something that I wanted to pursue in the future.

My college counselor suggested Cooper as a possible option. I was immediately enthralled by all of the rich history behind the school and I was attracted to the strong engineering program.

I am looking forward to getting to know all of my classmates and being able to do what I love.

I am currently giving tours and working at interactive carts as an intern at The Museum of Natural History.


  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.