USF's Museum Blog

Meet the Class of 2017!


University of San Francisco welcomes twenty-two unique, amazing and talented new graduate students to our growing program.  We proudly introduce them here:


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Breanne Batara

Breanne Batara was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. She received her Associates degree from Bellevue College, and her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Washington where she majored in Art History with a minor in Anthropology. Interested in the arts, culture, and history she volunteered at the Seattle Art Museum in the public programs department as well as the exhibits department for The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific Islander Experience. Additionally, she interned at the headquarters for the Filipino American National Historical Society working on new development and curated collections, including the pilot digitization project. She was the first to digitize and transcribe the oral histories under the Filipino Women in America project as well. For the last four years she has also worked as a lead childcare counselor for school age care at multiple community centers within the Greater Seattle area. With her passion for museums and storytelling, Breanne relocated to the Bay Area to pursue her Masters at USF and continue her professional career.



Sofia Rivero Borrell

Sofia Rivero Borrell is from Mexico City, Mexico. She received a BA in history from the Universidad Iberoamericana with a minor in art history (2012). While she studied, she volunteered at a local children’s hospital, where she headed a Ludic Activities’ team. Along with other classmates, she organized and participated on a symposium on 18th century New Spain. In this event, she spoke of her yearlong research on an entrepreneur’s issues with transatlantic commerce in New Spain. Her thesis looked into French author Louis Marin’s work. [“Translation and Brief Study of Louis Marin’s On Representation” (from English to Spanish)]  Sofia went on to work at a renowned, award winning cultural publishing house in Mexico as an editorial assistant. This gave her a great insight into cultural diffusion and the possibilities that technology provides. Sofia loves her extensive family and her dog Baco. You are most likely to find her with her nose buried inside a book.



Sarin Cemcem

Sarin Cemcem was born and raised in Orange County, California. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Art History with an emphasis in Surrealism from the University of California Los Angeles. As an undergraduate at UCLA, Sarin was immersed in the museum field, not just by the program’s talented faculty, but by the world class institutions nearby. Her museum experience began as an intern for the New Media Department at the Fowler Museum, cataloguing objects in collections management systems and editing collections information and related interpretive media for over 5,000 of the museum’s permanent collection objects. She successfully led a large-scale, student-developed event at the Hammer Museum with more than 300 attendants that became a template for future student-produced events. She’s held positions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and as a blogger for Los Angeles Art Resource. Sarin has worked in Museum Education at the Orange County Museum of Art, leading tours for students of different ages and developed interpretation for gallery experiences. Her most recent position was as Coordinator of Education Programs at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, the largest non-profit arts institution in Orange County. Sarin is very excited to be pursuing her Masters Degree at the University of San Francisco!


Cecilia Colzani

Cecilia Colzani is from a small town in northern Italy between Milan and Lake Como. She received a BA in cultural heritage and a master cum laude in art history from the Catholic University of Milan. During her studies, she contributed to several art exhibitions for the “Meeting for friendship amongst peoples,” an annual summer festival visited by over 800,000 people every year. Upon graduation, she worked in an elementary school teaching art and organizing art-related labs, workshops, and guided tours. Eager to convey her passion for art, she often organized tours to the best exhibitions in town for her friends. With time, this occasional activity turned into well-organized tours to museums and even several trips to historical sites and towns. During a trip to California in 2012, Cecilia felt in love with the museums in San Francisco and Los Angeles where she discovered a completely different experience to what she used to see in Italy. She moved to San Francisco in 2016 to pursue her master’s degree in Museum Studies at USF to combine her deep theoretical knowledge with a more in-the-field approach. To prepare for this journey, she attended the bi-annual gathering of the International Council of Museums in Milan in the summer of 2016. Her dream is to work as a curator in an art museum and pass her passion to more and more people.


Georgina Dasoura

Georgina Dasoura was born in Athens, Greece where she grew up and first learned about museums, culture and art. She moved to Thessaloniki, Greece for her undergraduate studies at the renowned school of Archaeology and History of Art. During her studies she participated in multiple cultural projects; in 2011 she was selected to take part in the “Education and Initial Vocational Training” program as an intern in Classical Archaeology; she was also actively involved in excavation projects in Vergina (GR) and in Toumba (GR). In 2012, she was awarded a European Union scholarship to participate in the Erasmus Student Exchange Program. She spent six months at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, in Spain, a city full of art history, culture and museums. In May 2013 she received a scholarship from Harvard University for a cultural internship program. During her studies, as well as after completing them, she worked for 3 years at the Benaki museum in Athens. She worked extensively on the cataloguing and digitalization of the works of the Museum Library, joined the museum’s team of the “Amykles Research Project”, and was in charge of the museum’s Copyrights Department. In the past year, she led several teams of volunteers, managing the organization of various museum conferences, such as the international museum conference “The future is now.


Emily Eaton (left)

Emily Eaton was born and raised in Central Illinois. She earned her B.A. in the Teaching of History from the University of Illinois Chicago, as well as her secondary education teaching credential. While living in Chicago, she spent many hours in the city’s museums, escaping the harsh Midwestern weather, and gaining an informal education. In 2007, she moved to California and began teaching for John Muir Charter School, a continuation high school for students who have left the traditional school environment to enroll in vocational programs. She worked with students at San Jose Job Corps, the California Conservation Corps, and the YouthBuild programs at Glide Memorial Church and Richmond, California. She is currently teaches US History, Modern World History, and Economics at Vicente Martinez High School, an alternative high school, in Martinez, California where she was awarded the Teacher of the Year for 2015. Emily has been on the forefront of the shift to Common Core ELA Standards at her school acting as one of the district’s site facilitators. She also serves on the Leadership Committee, runs the History Club, and the Hiking Club, and aids in implementation of the Career Pathways grant. Throughout her teaching career, Emily recognized the impact that learning outside the classroom had on students who struggle with traditional teaching methods. She worked closely with the National Park Service‘s Parks as Classroom initiative to bring at-risk youth to National Historical Sites, pilot curriculum on local history, as well as guide students backpacking in Yosemite. Last summer, she participated in the National Endowment for the Humanities Historical Landmarks Summer Institute in association with the University of California History Social Science Project. Emily is passionate about social justice, citizenship, and sharing her love of history and museums with her students. She plans to continue her work by strengthening the bridge between public education and museum education in the Bay Area.


Emily Katz

Emily Katz grew up in Omaha, Nebraska but was born in San Francisco, so moving to the Bay Area felt a little like coming home. She received a dual degree in Anthropology and Spanish Language from Loyola University in Chicago, where she took full advantage of the rich and plentiful museums around the city. Her internship at the National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) was the most impactful experience as it changed her perspective on how a museum can be utilized to build community. As the education intern, Emily was immersed into programming and became an integral part of the educational tours. Prior to her work at the NMMA, Emily interned at the Denver Art Museum as a Latino Cultural Programs Intern, working to make the museum a more inclusive space for bilingual and bicultural visitors. These experiences specifically propelled Emily’s passion for museums as a tool for social change which led her to the University of San Francisco to pursue a master’s degree in Museum Studies. Emily is eager to get involved in the San Francisco museum community and delve deeper into this unique and culturally vibrant city.


Ciara Kirk

Ciara Kirk or, as some call her Cici, was born in Phoenix, Arizona and raised in Vacaville, California, just a short hour drive from San Francisco. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in learning and pedagogy with a content emphasis in the humanities from Northern Arizona University (Go Lumberjacks!), where she was awarded the honor of Deans List. At NAU, she focused on anthropology, education, technology and the arts. She has a passion for art history, animation, anti-bullying legislature, education and volunteering. She is an AmeriCorps, Mortar Board and Kappa Delta Pi Alum who has also worked with several non-profit organizations, including the Cesar Chavez Foundation and Project Ayuda. Recently, she worked as a Gallery Facilitator at the Arizona Science Center where she shared her love for science education and project based learning with a wide audience of visitors. She is now pursuing her Masters Degree in Museum Studies at the University of San Francisco

Emily Lawhead Headshot-1 copy

Emily Lawhead

Emily Lawhead was born in Prescott, Arizona and, until joining this program at USF, spent her entire life in Northern Arizona. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Cultural Studies with emphases in Art History and Asian Studies and minors in Museum Studies and Japanese Language from Northern Arizona University in 2016. Emily was the recipient of the Hooper Undergraduate Research Award, through which she studied contemporary Japanese installation art, its roots in medieval garden design, and was able to travel to Japan.  Emily worked with the Northern Arizona University Art Museum and the Flagstaff Arts Council for four years, participating in the curation and development of over fifteen exhibitions. She was also the primary facilitator for a study collection donated to Northern Arizona University by the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation. At the University of San Francisco, Emily hopes to gain more experience and knowledge of the field, while continuing to pursue her passion in art and museum studies.


Leslie Lombre

Leslie Lombre is a native Bay Area resident and lives in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood. She works at USF’s Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good as the Associate Director overseeing Development and Communications for the Center. She comes from doing Development most recently at the Museum of the African Diaspora, the San Francisco Center for the Book and Heyday Books/Heyday Institute. Leslie comes from a first career in film, video and television promotion and syndication initially for the Department of Education and then in commercial television handling news and information programming. She began taking Museum Studies courses last year as a Visiting Student and became so engaged, she opted to officially enroll in the M.A. program. She’ll continue to work full time while finishing the required classes and in her spare moments, co-directing an annual outdoor film exhibition, serving as a Director on the Board of the Luggage Store Gallery/509 Cultural Center and on the Board of Pacific Islanders in Communications, a member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s National Minority Consortia.


Kelly Millán

Kelly Millán is a proud Houston, Texas native. She received her BA from the University of Texas at Austin with a major in Anthropology and a minor in Government. Passionate about archaeology and fieldwork, Kelly attended the Texas Archeological Society’s ‘Archeology 101’ workshop in Victoria, Texas on a Diversity Scholarship and was featured in the quarterly newsletter. She continued her studies in historical archaeology and assisted in the first excavation of the Antioch Colony site in Buda, Texas. Kelly did a close study of the artifacts and material culture found at the site, working at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory as well as within the Department of Anthropology’s research laboratory. Her findings led to an independent research project and were highlighted in an Intellectual Entrepreneurship Pre-Graduate Internship student profile video. She was also a recipient of a College of Liberal Arts Competitive Scholarship. In her spare time, Kelly worked as an undergraduate research assistant with the Department of Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology and volunteered with local film festivals in Austin, including the annual SXSW Festival as part of the Film Venue Staff. Before relocating to San Francisco, Kelly worked in the Membership & Guest Services department at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and is excited to be joining the Museum Studies program at USF.


Greer Montgomery

A product of Southern California’s beaches, Greer Montgomery was born and raised in the South Bay of Los Angeles. She holds a B.A. with honors in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. While there, she worked as a research assistant and went on to conduct environmental and anthropological fieldwork in the Kumaon region of India’s Himalayas. She later worked as a copywriter, generating content for the City of Manhattan Beach’s Public Arts Center, as well as writing copy for a local artist’s website and gallery shows. Most recently, Greer was a volunteer assistant in the education department at the Getty Villa in Malibu, CA. There she assisted in projects such as College Night, developing tours, and programs related research. Greer’s interest in museums sprang out of a love of stories. She values museums’ abilities to tell the stories of everyday and extraordinary people through tangible objects. She hopes to expand her knowledge of collections management and curatorial practices while earning her MA at USF. Beyond her love of museums and storytelling, Greer is an avid surfer and an Ocean Lifeguard for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.


Fernanda Partida Ochoa

Fernanda Partida Ochoa is from Guadalajara, Mexico and holds a degree in history from Universidad de Guadalajara. Since 2006 she has worked in private and public archives including Archivo de Indias, Bibliotéque Kandinski, Bilbiotéque National de France, Archivo General de la Nación and Archivo de la Real Audiencia en México y la Nueva Galicia. In 2012 Fernanda was part of the research team for a book about the Mexican painter Francisco Toledo for Fomento Cultural Banamex. She researched and digitalized more than 350 artworks located all over France. From 2013 to 2015 she managed the art production and researches for the artist Eduardo Sarabia, working with institutions like Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca, Museo de Arte de Zapopan, Instituto Cultural Cabañas en Guadalajara, and Arizona State University. She has also been part of the creation and management of different cultural events local and internationally. She is now living in San Francisco pursuing her Master’s degree in Museum Studies at USF.


Lauren Riera

Lauren Riera comes to the Museum Studies graduate program with over ten years of professional experience in the field. A proud San Francisco native, she recently returned to her hometown after eight years in Boston where she attended college and rose up the ranks at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, (MFA). Her museum career started at the M.H. de Young Museum as a Museum Ambassador where she worked for three years while a student at Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts. Lauren graduated magna cum laude in three years from Boston’s Simmons College, earning her B.A. Degree in Arts Administration on a Management/Marketing track. During college she volunteered at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum while working part-time at the MFA. In 2011 she was offered an additional position at the MFA with Artful Adventures, connecting youth with the museum collection through customized tours and art-making activities. In 2012 Lauren was promoted within the museum to the Education Department where she served as its Coordinator until 2016. Lauren is passionate about making art accessible to all. She hopes to use her professional experience and academic pursuits to connect museums to the local community, continuing her strong family legacy of arts advocacy in the Bay Area.


Niki Schmidt

Niki Schmidt grew up in the Sonoran Desert near Phoenix, Arizona. While pursuing her BA in Anthropology from the University of Arizona, she volunteered in the department’s archaeology lab on an artifact rehousing project for the Arizona State Museum. During her last year of study, she participated in a Greek-Canadian archaeological field school at the site of Argilos in Northern Greece. Niki spent the next four years in Austin, Texas. She worked at the LBJ Presidential Library in the Public Programming and Membership department, while volunteering in the Museum Collection. After the final day of the Vietnam War Summit, Niki packed her belongings and drove to Yosemite during the Centennial of the National Park Service to begin the next stage of her museum career, an internship in the museum collection. After living her entire life in the sun, Niki is thrilled to experience the breezy, cloudy weather San Francisco has to offer while she pursues her MA in Museum Studies at USF and welcomes any advice on how to purchase a coat.


Christina Schwandt

Christina Schwandt was born in Baton Rouge, LA and grew up in Panama City Beach, FL. She graduated from Florida State University with a BA in Art History and a minor in Museum Studies. Christina’s passion for social justice and love for history and art led her to find an outlet in volunteering. She spent a year with AmeriCorps NCCC volunteering along the western coast of the United States and since then has continued to volunteer at various non-profit organizations and art galleries. After obtaining her BA she moved to Fresno, CA where she began a career in the non-profit sector. Christina is currently the Volunteer Coordinator of The Salvation Army of Alameda County and is excited to pursue her MA in Museum Studies at The University of San Francisco.


Michelle Tarbell

Michelle Tarbell grew up in Rowland Heights, California and attended the University of California at Berkeley where she received bachelor’s degrees in History and Classical Civilizations. As a student she interned at several museums, including the Magnes Museum of Jewish Art and Life in Berkeley, CA and the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. She was first introduced to the realm of museum studies during an archaeological excavation in Mycenae, Greece. Instead of reveling in the excitement of being out in the field, Michelle realized her true interest laid within the museum where she was put to work identifying Bronze Age pottery and artwork. After graduating she moved to Santa Cruz, California where she interned at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History. Michelle is excited to be returning to school and pursuing her passions at the University of San Francisco.


Debra Teo

Debra Teo received her BA in history from the National University of Singapore. Upon graduation, she worked at the National Museum of Singapore where she researched artifacts ranging from traditional clothing like cheongsams, to porcelain and photographs. She collaborated with curators and conservators on the digital archiving of artifacts, contributed to publications and also wrote labels to educate and engage visitors. She volunteers at the Asian Art Museum and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Museum Studies at USF, concentrating on curatorship, collections management and technology. She believes museums need to engage with contemporary issues, and allow for diverse voices and marginalised stories to be surfaced. As a historian, she is passionate about telling stories of people usually omitted from public consciousness or national narratives. In doing so, she hopes to create valuable experiences, promote understanding and inspire action.


Caitlin Toomey

Born and raised in California, Caitlin Toomey has spent her life attempting to become the next Indiana Jones. While in high school, she began her museum career by volunteering at a local art gallery after school and on the weekends. Caitlin’s biggest adventure started when she left home to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology from UCLA. It was at UCLA that Caitlin truly began to explore her passions for history, art, and museum education by interning at both the Hammer Museum and the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles. Caitlin finished up her degree in Southern California and returned back home to Sacramento. Instead of jumping right into graduate school, Caitlin took some time to explore her interests in museum education by becoming a museum assistant at the Wells Fargo History Museum and an intern at the Crocker Art Museum. At these institutions, Caitlin not only worked with the public by giving tours and interacting with visitors, but she also was integral in policy and program development. Her time at the Wells Fargo Museum and the Crocker gave Caitlin a clear understanding of what she is passionate about and fueled her desire to pursue a graduate degree in museum studies. Caitlin is so excited to start this new adventure at USF and is looking forward to the challenge, as well as the journey.

Lydia Webster

Lydia Webster

Lydia Webster was born in Edinburgh, Scotland but was lucky enough to spend most of her childhood in the San Francisco Bay Area. After living in England for several years, she moved back to Edinburgh to complete her undergraduate degree in Religious Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Lydia graduated with a first class degree with honours and was the recipient of both the Paterson Memorial Prize and the Gunning Prize for academic excellence. Her undergraduate training formed her research interests in identity and memory studies, sacred space and the display of religious objects. While completing her studies, Lydia interned as part of the Current Archaeology team, a best-selling, UK-based magazine, writing articles, a press release and contents page subheadings. She has also worked in two archives, at the School of Scottish Studies and the University of Edinburgh School of Divinity. Engaging with and educating the public in the Museum of Somerset, England, and at the Scottish Festival of Museums has also formalised her decision to pursue a career in the museum sector. Having gained experience in the UK museum sphere, Lydia looks forward to developing both her theoretical and practical understanding of how museums function in the USA.


Kristin Wight

Kristin Wight was born and raised in New York, and currently resides in Berkeley, California. Kristin attended New York Institute of Technology where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Architectural Design. After college, Kristin spent many years as a travel agent where she combined her love of travel and culture while exploring and researching foreign cities. Wanting to contribute back to society Kristin decided to enter teaching. After receiving her Masters in Elementary Education from Texas State University at San Marcos, Kristin spent 12 years teaching elementary grades across the country. Kristin studied for and received her Integrated Learning Specialist (ILS) Certificate, presented workshops on teaching practices and has written curriculum in all elementary subject areas. She hopes her studies at the University of San Francisco will allow her to combine her dual passions for both art and education and inspire a new generation of museum enthusiasts.



Zach Williams

Zachary (Zach) Williams grew up in the always-sunny city of Sunnyvale- situated in the heart of Silicon Valley. Zach graduated from California State University, Chico with a Bachelors of Arts degree in History, a minor in Anthropology and a certificate in Public History. While attending Chico State, Zach interned for the Chico Museum where he assisted in everything from curating and installing exhibits, reorganizing the collection, and serving as a docent, gift shop assistant, and event coordinator. Along with his internship at the Chico Museum, Zach maintained a position in the archaeology lab at Chico State where he worked in conservation and data entry. With a strong passion for history, Zach spent the summers of 2015 and 2016 in Antigua, West Indies, where he worked on several different archaeological and bio-archaeological sites excavating an eighteenth century British burial ground, an eighteenth to nineteenth century slave village, and an eighteenth century British fort. During his time in the Caribbean, Zach also had the opportunity to set up exhibits in the Dockyard Museum– a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Zach is looking forward to his time at University of San Francisco and experiencing all the museum field has to offer.

For more information on University of San Francisco’s museum studies program, click here.

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