The officers of the Undergraduate Art History Association (UAHA) work hard to create a space where students pursuing Art History as a career path can come together for social events, lectures, and conversation about shared interests, goals, and plans. President Paris Gilstrap and Co-VPs Stephanie Fischer and Ivy Bealyer all joined UAHA during their junior year in order to learn more about the department, investigate career ideas, and meet fellow art history majors. That first year, they felt the club had more potential than it was realizing, so in the spring of 2019 they decided to run for office and spend their senior year working to create a more connected community.
In the fall of 2019, the new UAHA officers focused on expanding the club’s activities and visibility in the department, and on encouraging fellow students to participate with specific active roles. They assisted in planning and promoting the department lecture series and Halloween social; they also hosted Life After Graduation, a meeting of students, faculty, and staff for open discussion of workforce experiences and advice on career paths. UAHA members teamed up with the FSU Print Club to create handprinted tote bags designed by students with art historical references. The event fostered new friendships across disciplines in a fun and creative environment, which can be hard to do in the classroom.
This spring the group is arranging more workshops, creative gatherings, and share night fundraisers to support field trips. Keep an eye on our Instagram account, arthistoryfsu, for upcoming UAHA events. The semester kicks off with Meet the Majors, a pizza-with-professors social on Wednesday afternoon, January 22 at 5 pm in the Art & Design Library (2020WJB).
These student leaders were kind enough to sit down for an interview with writers from the Art History IT class to discuss their goals and what UAHA has to offer students. Paris Gilstrap, Stephanie Fischer, and Ivy Bealyer all transferred into the art history major in their junior year. Paris is also majoring in internal affairs and minoring in museum studies; Ivy is also minoring in museum studies, and Stephanie is minoring in communications.
Q: Why did you run to be an officer? What do you plan to offer to the club/ students?
Paris: To understand the major better and help people find their path. I wanted to help students understand the curriculum, and realize that they don’t have to take the exact same path as everyone else. A big struggle for students seems to be reaching out to faculty for guidance and help, but they are a great resource and I want it to be known.
Ivy: I transferred here from another school and as a result felt thrown into the program at first, and it was difficult to find my bearings. I want to be able to help others in a similar situation feel that they are not alone.
Stephanie: I feel that it’s important to create community within the department. Personally, I felt like there was a disconnect, particularly between graduate students and undergraduates. By joining the board, I thought I had already made a major step, and with the activities of the past year I think we’ve given more of the majors a sense of community.
Q: Why do you recommend people join UAHA?
Paris: There are a lot of good opportunities to get involved with the Art History community by being a part of the club. I myself have met and become friends with a lot more people in the program as a result.
Ivy: It’s great to build connections. Having such a strong starting point to move forward from and a network of people in your field is crucial to success.
Stephanie: I don’t know of other art history programs with a club quite like this. It’s nice to get to know people, especially because the major is small. Being established as a club helps connect us to grad students, that can be mentors to us. The sense of hierarchy in the university structure can be overwhelming to undergraduate students too, but we don’t feel that here. People are very open to joining us in events, very welcoming when we want to participate.
Q:What do you hope to gain from this experience with UAHA?
Paris: I’ve been thinking about working in arts administration, so having experience with budgeting, collaborating, and practicing communication on all sides has been beneficial.
Ivy: I agree, I really wanted to gain experience from an arts admin standpoint, such as event planning, getting everything together, and community building!
Stephanie: The most important thing I’ve gained is just meeting so many people. It’s made me more comfortable talking to people and makes me be social when I just want to stay home. UAHA has pushed me out of my comfort zone. I want to encourage other underclassmen to have more confidence within the major.
Q: How has participating in UAHA impacted your own goals?
Paris: When I first started the major, I wanted to work a year after graduation. As I began work on my honors thesis and got more involved with UAHA, I realized I want to immediately apply for grad school. I pivoted toward academics rather than focusing on a career right away. UAHA has helped me to gain more of a focus on my own goals.
Ivy: I originally was unsure about going to graduate school after receiving my bachelors degree. Now I feel more confident about grad school. It has helped me prioritize what’s most important.
Stephanie: UAHA has helped me get more excited for grad school. That’s something I always felt I had to do, but now I know I want to. Additionally, talking to people at meetings has helped me gain more insight to opportunities in the field.
Stephanie has created an extensive resource for undergraduate Art History students on how to navigate the major and beyond: Click Here for More Information
Student Authors: Sara Kuba, Kelsey Litchfield, Nicole Ferrara