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What have you done since graduating and where are you now?
For two years after graduating, I worked as the Assistant Director of the RCAH Center for Poetry. In this position, I primarily helped plan and run Center for Poetry events, oversaw communications, marketing and development, and managed a team of 3-5 interns. The skills I developed in this time, as well as my experience as a performing musician and my previous involvement in other artistic organizations like Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and the Summer Solstice Jazz Festival, prompted me to pursue graduate studies in arts management. I currently live in Montréal, Canada and am getting a Master's degree in Management of Cultural Organizations at HEC Montréal. HEC is an internationally-ranked business school and a pioneer in the (relatively recent) field of arts management. It has been particularly enriching to study the arts from a business perspective, and I plan to stay in Montreal and seek work there after graduating.
In my free time, I enjoy participating in many kinds of music and dance, including playing traditional Québécois and American old-time music on fiddle. One thing that I've learned about the Montreal arts scene is that if you can name it, it probably exists. It's a very rich and supportive city for the arts and arts enthusiasts!
How did RCAH prepare you for what you're doing now?
I was a communications intern at RCAH during my junior year, during which time I gained experience writing newsletters, updating the RCAH website, and helping establish the Summer of RCAH Tumblr. Having these communications and web skills, along with my humanities background, made the transition into my position at the Center for Poetry very smooth.
Now, in my new home, I am constantly in contact with different cultures and beliefs. As Americans, we tend to either ignore Canada entirely or just consider it as an offshoot of the U.S. However, Canada has its own distinct cultures and practices, and French Canada is a different ballgame all together. Montreal itself is an incredibly diverse city, both in its population and its cultural offerings, and my classes are entirely in French. These are all factors that equate to big changes from my life in East Lansing, but I feel that my humanities training equipped me to understand and eventually adapt to cultures such as the one I'm now a part of.
Additionally, the strong emphasis RCAH puts on critical reading and writing has helped me in innumerable facets of my professional life. I never thought I'd say this, but I actually miss writing research papers for my final exams! I would also say that the flexibility of the RCAH degree allowed me to effectively integrate my humanities studies with my French studies. The combination of an Arts and Humanities degree with an Ethnomusicology concentration and a French Language and Culture degree has served me well in my current setting. I feel pretty triumphant that I've been able to put both an arts degree and a language degree to good use, and I can think of plenty of other RCAH grads who are doing the same!
What were your academic interests in RCAH?
I was particularly interested in gender studies and ethnomusicology while I was a student in RCAH, and I'm sure I would not have become so engaged in those fields if I hadn't been exposed to them in class. For example, to fulfill my RCAH capstone requirement I wrote a senior thesis on the gender climate in music academia as it applied to the MSU College of Music. While I no longer study those things in an academic setting, my background in gender and music strongly colors my professional and personal pursuits.
What were your favorite aspects of the RCAH experience?
This is always the hardest question. If I had to boil it down, I'd say my favorite aspect of the RCAH experience was getting to live and learn in an environment in which people are always creating, always questioning, and always doing. If you need someone to make a video, to perform music at an event, to draw a comic book--ANYTHING--there is always someone who can do it. The opportunities to learn from and teach each other are endless.
Did you ever take part in Study Abroad/Study Away at MSU?
I was also a French major and studied abroad in Tours, France for eight weeks during the summer. It improved my French exponentially and sparked an interest in studying francophone cultures outside of Europe, especially in Quebec. I've since found ways to combine that interest along with my interest in gender studies and ethnomusicology.
What words of wisdom do you have for current RCAH students?
Take advantage of your time here. There are so many events and resources available right here in Snyder-Phillips, not to mention all over campus. Schedule time to talk to your professors during office hours, whether it's course-related or not. Study hard, but make sure to take care of your spiritual and emotional well-being too. And most importantly, say thank you once in a while to the professors and staff who make all of it possible!