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A Baruch Student’s International Scholarly Journey

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Rattanamol Johal applied to and was accepted at Baruch College sight unseen. Intending to study economics, Rattan mailed in his application, all the way from Chandigath, the capital of Punjab, India on the recommendation of a relative.

Sometimes things just work out as they should.  

“I had a great experience at Baruch,” Rattan declared, though his studies didn’t turn out at all as he originally anticipated. A Macaulay Honors Scholar with a double major in Art History and Political Science at Baruch College’s Weissman School, this year Rattan won the coveted Kanner Prize for a scholarly and imaginative senior dissertation on architectural history and political will.   His subject was Kapurthal, a medium-sized city in his home state, Punjab. In the colonial era, while nominally under British rule, it was actually run by a Francophile Indian prince who spent a fortune importing Parisian culture and architecture to his hometown. The thesis was an expression of Rattan’s interest in “aesthetisizing politics,” a theme he will pursue and expand on this fall as a student in London’s famed Courtauld Institute of Art.    

As a Baruch College student Rattan seized every opportunity he saw. While maintaining a near-perfect GPA, he also garnered an amazing number of prestigious internships. A semester in France, via the CUNY-Paris Exchange program, was followed by a semester in Washington D.C., interning in the office of Congresswoman Yvette Clark. In New York, he interned at Christie’s, the renowned auction house, in the Department of Indian and Southeast Asian Art, and at the museum and library of the Hispanic Society of America.   Most remarkably, having completed his Baruch coursework in January of 2009, Rattan applied for and was awarded an internship in Venice, Italy, at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, where he led tours of the gallery while also supervising an international team of interns and cultivating his knowledge of early 20th century art and European modernism.   

Rattan comes from a scholarly family — both his mother and aunt are college professors. So it seems inevitable that one day soon he will be a bright star in the academic firmament. When he applied for graduate work in the U.K., Rattan was immediately accepted at Oxford and Cambridge as well as at the Courtauld Institute.  It’s an unusual trajectory for a Baruch College student, but Rattan is an unusual young man. Karen Shelby, professor of art history, who was a friend and mentor, says of Rattan, “It was a pleasure to supervise his thesis. I learned a lot.  Any day now, we expect Rattan to make a splash in the art history world.”