Ana Juarez (MA ’17) began her studies in Art History with an eye on an academic career, but discovered in graduate school the wider variety of professional options for a career in the arts. As an undergraduate, she expected her interest in Spanish Baroque art to lead to a teaching career, but in Art History’s Museum & Cultural Heritage Studies MA program at FSU, she found opportunities and skills that engendered a love for museum work. Now the Barancik Community Engagement Fellow at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Ana writes,
It was my second year in grad school when I realized how many more job options there are in the art history field. This program helped me see that my future wasn’t just a square peg in a square hole. It opened me up to whatever opportunities come my way.
During the 2016–17 school year, Ana and four fellow MA students participated in The Ringling Track. a yearlong internship at one the largest and most prestigious university arts campuses in the world. Students in the program attend seminars led by curators and gain in-depth experience in each of the departments of the museum, which helps them find and refine their particular professional talents. Ana’s success and connections in the internship led directly to her new position; a former professor is now her supervisor and mentor at The Ringling.
Ana writes that the most important part of her job, from her perspective, is facilitating The Ringling’s outreach program, “Where Everyone Belongs” (WEB). This program focuses on at-risk families in the Sarasota community, providing them with free memberships to the museum. Now in its second year, WEB has already added 162 new families to The Ringling’s membership. Funding for WEB has been generously provided by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and a $175 million gift from the Barancik Foundation. Thanks to this gift, the museum was able to hire a full-time Community Engagement Officer to work over a four-year period with other nonprofit service providers in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Ana manages the budget, facilitates meetings, and works with the sponsors to provide the program to 200 at-risk families in the Sarasota community each year. She credits her background as a member of a bilingual family from Mexico with helping her communicate with the families she serves.