Student Reflections: In the Classroom

Erin Wadsworth, a Carolina student and Arts Ambassador for Arts Everywhere, recently wrote a blog post reflecting on her experience in a new Arts Everywhere sponsored course offered in the communications department, COMM 690: “Careers in The Arts”

Below is her full post sharing her favorite parts of the class and how it has expanded upon her arts-academia experience at Chapel Hill. Thank you Erin for sharing your reflection with us!

Erin, pictured on the left next to a friend, wearing an Arts Everywhere t-shirt

Hello! My name is Erin Wadsworth, and I am an Arts Ambassador with Arts Everywhere. This semester, I am enrolled in “Careers in The Arts: Performance, Programming, Curation,” a brand new COMM course. Let me tell you all about it!

The course is led by Dr. Amanda Graham, the associate director of engagement at Carolina Performing Arts. In almost every class meeting, Dr. Graham introduces my classmates and me to a new guest from The Arts industry. I’ve met so many different artists and art administrators who serve in roles I never knew existed. We were introduced to Jenn Bianchi, who runs her own company teaching improv techniques to help businesses improve their communication practices. Dr. Mark Katz and Junious Brickhouse use hiphop dance as a form of foreign diplomacy through Next Level USA, their organization that is partnered with the U.S. Department of State. After Dr. Graham interviews each guest, we have the opportunity to ask the guest our own questions.

For me, the most influential guest has been Myra Weise, the manager of museum services at the Nasher Museum of Art in Durham. She also founded Proxemic Media, an organization that supports artists in expressing themselves by producing their projects. Weise made me realize that I can make a career out of something I’m passionate about. She offered, “It’s so important to know why you care, and what you care about, and to pursue that because that’s what our world needs. We don’t need more regurgitated motions because you think you need to be doing it and you don’t actually care to do it.” I came to UNC interested in a career in The Arts but didn’t think it was practical. I thought I needed to choose a more stable and traditional career path. After her visit to our class, it finally clicked that a career in The Arts is what I want and what I need to do with my life. Weise understands the value of The Arts in society and is making a career out of it. She is living out my dream job, which I never knew existed until I took this class. Some runner ups of my favorite guests include CJ Suitt, the poet laureate of Chapel Hill, and Kevin “Kaze” Thomas, founder of VibeHouse 405 on Franklin St.

While the course has given me confidence about pursuing this passion as a career, I’ve also benefited in more concrete ways. As a junior, I’ve spent this semester working on summer and fall internship applications. Some of our guests have introduced me to internship opportunities that I wouldn’t have found on my own. Additionally, I wrote a cover letter as a class assignment. I had only written one cover letter before this class and didn’t know what I was doing. After getting feedback from Dr. Graham, an established Arts professional, I felt confident sending that cover letter in my internship applications.

COMM 690 is by far my favorite class this semester (and dare I say my favorite class I’ve taken at UNC so far!). I’m not just saying that for the sake of this blog. I’ve learned so much from our guests and expanded my Arts network. I definitely recommend “Careers in The Arts,” especially if a career in The Arts is something you’re even slightly interested in.

Zoom screenshot of class

Shoutout to Dr. Graham, Joey the TA, my classmates, and guest Eric Pickersgill! We start off each class meeting with a fun question to introduce ourselves to the guest. On this day, Pickersgill, a photographer, was visiting. Since the theme of the day was photography, we each shared a picture that immediately brings us back to the moment in time it was taken. A lot of us shared photos of pre-pandemic memories with friends and family. Because of this, Pickersgill prompted us to pose with the facial expression we would have when we see a friend or family member for the first time once life returns to normal!