Some UNC students took summer classes to catch up or get ahead in their majors. Others took a break from college to travel. But for these students in the arts, summer was an opportunity to get hands-on experience in the fields they love.
UNC students Carolyn Chen, Olivia Herrera and Gayathri Raghavendra spent their summers pursuing their passions and building their resumes with arts-related experiences.
Carolyn Chen, a senior double majoring in chemistry and Chinese, worked as an undergraduate research scholar at the University of Delaware over the summer.
Chen worked at the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, where she focused on conserving pieces of art and other historic objects.
Working with pre-Columbian era South American dyestuff and textiles, Chen conducted research to find a nondestructive way to analyze the archaeological materials.
Going into this experience, Chen said she felt prepared because of the prior coursework she completed for her chemistry major at UNC.
“People who go into art conservation often come into it from an art history perspective, but chemistry is a big part of the prerequisites required for conservation school, just because of the stuff you work with and use to clean and better understand the material,” Chen said.
Chen first encountered the conservation field in high school while volunteering at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Chen said that her coursework and her research experiences have solidified her desire to work in a similar space in the future.
"It's great because conservation is at the intersection of art and science,” Chen said. “I really enjoy art, but I'm also really into science, so it's a job where you get to do both.”
Olivia Herrera, a junior double majoring in dramatic art and advertising and public relations, worked as a company management intern at the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company in Weston, Vermont.
Herrera helped produce five different productions from the nonprofit playhouse’s 2019 season. She aided in producing “The Phantom Tollbooth,” “The Fantasticks,” “I And You,” “Oklahoma!” and “Always… Patsy Cline.”
Herrera said she ensured all housing and transportation details were fulfilled for the constant influx and departures of designers, actors, technicians and directors. She also planned community events, tech dinners, gala meetings and opening night parties.
Getting to experience all of the responsibilities of a theater company manager was the main reason Herrera said she pursued this internship.
"Company management is one of those things in the theater world that is an absolutely necessary position that you cannot learn about in school,” Herrera said. “I knew I wasn't going to learn about it until I got my hands dirty with it.”
Herrera said her theater leadership roles back at UNC are what really helped her succeed in her summer internship. She is the associate director of LAB! Theatre and the publicity co-director of Kenan Theatre Company on campus, and her time with these organizations gave her the necessary framework to excel in a nonprofit theater setting.
"Arts at UNC has only further instilled in me that what I'm doing is a career that's going to last a really long time and will make me so, so happy because I'm going to be creating things for other people,” Herrera said. “It's giving me the foundation I need, so that when I graduate I am able to take those skills and apply them to my future career."
Gayathri Raghavendra, a junior double majoring in computer science and public policy, chose to begin a position with Arts Everywhere.
Raghavendra is the lead student coordinator for Arts Everywhere, and since June, she has worked to revamp the organization’s arts leadership collaborative.
Raghavendra also said she is working on an arts activism initiative related to "the red zone." The red zone refers to the time period from FDOC to Thanksgiving break, where over 50 percent of sexual assault cases on college campuses occur. Raghavendra said the exhibit is set to open in October.
Raghavendra said working with the Arts Everywhere organization has instilled in her that it is important to integrate art into UNC campus life.
"I think being really immersed with Arts Everywhere in the summer has helped me gain an appreciation for the work that they do, and all of the hard work they put in,” Raghavendra said. “The work we put out is something we sincerely believe is valuable to people."
Even though her majors are not directly tied to the arts, Raghavendra used her position as president of the on-campus a capella group, The Tarpeggios, to give her confidence to take on a position with Arts Everywhere this summer.
"Put yourself out there,” Raghavendra said. “There's nothing better you can do for yourself than to just believe in what your vision is and what you have to say and what work you have to put out there."
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