The past few years have left me feeling a bit like Alice after falling down the rabbit hole––trying on different “sizes,” or in my case interests, until I found the right one. I’ve been an opera singer, a transcriptionist, a tour guide, and a marketing consultant. This year, I became a museum enthusiast, and I think this time, the title will stick.
In the fall, I had the opportunity to intern at The Blanton Museum of Art. As an Education Intern, I created a database of oral histories, statistics, memoirs, and interviews from immigrants around the globe. I also developed educational materials for students and wrote reports on topics such as protests in 20th century Chile, forced disappearances in Colombia, health inequalities in undocumented communities, and the memory of AIDS in the U.S. This internship completely altered my understanding of museums. I used to view museums as exclusive spaces. Now, I see museums as places for community healing, outreach, and transformation. My internship at The Blanton set the tone for the rest of my year, as I continued to work and research in museums.
In the spring, I moved to England for a history exchange program at University College London, where our very own Isabel Carey introduced me to her hometown. My courses at UCL were challenging and unique. I got to formulate my own research topics and even did a final project on the historiographical debates surrounding the establishment of Chinese gynecology. Outside of class, I worked as a Gallery Steward at Two Temple Place. This historic home, once belonging to William Waldorf Astor, now hosts annual exhibitions. I worked at the home during their Body, Vessel, Clay: Black Women, Ceramics, and Contemporary Art exhibit. It was here that I gained inspiration for a forty-seven-page research project titled “Examining Exhibition Spaces: How London Museums Interact with Race.” For the project, I spent thirteen weeks exploring, critiquing, and reflecting on my experiences at different London museums under the guidance of Dr. Suzanne Seriff, who is now my upcoming senior thesis advisor.
My interest in museums also took me outside of London. I went to the Prado Museum in Madrid, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Neues Museum in Berlin, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Trinity College in Dublin (to see the book of Kells), The Matisse Museum in Nice, and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, where I am based for the summer. Here, I am taking a class on Shakespeare and a course that surveys fiction written in Oxford. I am immensely grateful to the Dedman Program for providing me the opportunity to study abroad not just once, but twice!
Aside from academics, I’ve had the chance to explore even more interests in my personal life. As a self-proclaimed foodie, I’ve tried a number of new European dishes like bitterballen, paella, wiener schnitzel, and jaffa cakes. I went to candlelight concerts in Berlin and Oxford. I got lost on a bus in Germany but used my (brand new) ability to navigate public transportation systems to find my way home. I got engaged to the love of my life and partner of six years. I took an art law course through Sotheby’s Institute of Art. I joined Texas Bluebonnets, a spirit group at UT and have found an incredible community of friends. I’ve had the most exhilarating, curiosity-inspiring junior year filled with opportunities made possible by the Dedman Program.
As I move forward into my senior year, I’m looking forward to seeing how my interest in museum studies shapes my post-grad plans. I also can’t wait to see my cohort again after we’ve been on different continents for months! To the Dedman family and program––my gratitude is endless. Thank you.