How will your experience at Harvard Extension help you in your career or personal development?
I chose museum studies at Harvard Extension because I needed a degree that would equip me with the skills and knowledge necessary to establish and manage a nonprofit organization for emerging artists.
My personal experiences as an artist made me realize that many artists rely heavily on the commercial viability of their art. Unfortunately, the reliance on commercial platforms like galleries and agents may compromise artistic authenticity, imaginativeness, and originality.
I want to change that troubling picture by designing an accessible multi-platform studio for disadvantaged artists that is free from commercial pressures. I envision creating a nonprofit organization that can provide emerging artists with a community where they can thrive and embrace the goal of discovering how their art can make a difference, and where they may find their place in the world.
I believe that the degree of museum studies at the Extension School was a great way for me to gain new knowledge and network for the challenging journey ahead.
What was the most challenging aspect of your time at Extension? What was the most rewarding?
The older I get, the harder it is for me to maintain focus, manage time, and prioritize to deliver the academic requirements of each course. It was the most challenging aspect of my academic experience at the Extension School. But the classes I took energized my interests and fed my determination to succeed. The courses were rewarding beyond my expectations.
What was the online experience like for you and how did you successfully balance the on-campus and online requirements?
I never thought learning through online courses could be as rewarding as the campus experience, but the online courses provided convenience and time-saving factors that were unparalleled.
I also very much enjoyed the diversity of the campus and the potential opportunities for success while living in the Boston area.
I worked hard to leverage both experiences—on campus and online—to build closer personal connections and academic relationships. The combination of both platforms gave me an incredible educational experience and level of involvement. Both mediums prepared me for the real 21st-century work requirements, particularly during the current challenging pandemic.
In which ways did you connect with the Harvard community?
Online student discussions were insightful, enriching, and a great way to learn from each other in the most convenient way possible. But group projects requiring meetings on the campus to accomplish a single project objective together were always satisfying both socially and intellectually.
I remember one particular meeting with my group at the Harvard Art Museums. After a relaxing coffee time with my group in the open glass roof of the museum piazza, we had a gratifying discussion with the museum administration and security personnel.
I should also add that the open green market and the food trucks on the campus are a must-experience. It’s a great way to meet other students and experience a slice of real campus life while enjoying great lunch food and fresh produce to take home.
Do you have any advice for new students?
There is always room for improvement—academically, professionally, and personally. I am in my 50s and striving to grow as much now as when I was in my 20s. I advise new students to entertain candid feedback. Ask for it from professors, teachers’ assistants, and classmates. It’s humbling, and it is productive. Its rarity makes it one of the most valuable learning experiences that helped me to always strive for my best.
Describe your Extension School experience in one word.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.