USF's Museum Blog

Meet the Class of 2021!

The Museum Studies program was honored to welcome a new cohort of students to its ranks in August of this year. Despite having started their academic journey in the midst of a global pandemic, the Class of 2021 has shown its grit and resilience from day one and has hit the ground running. And while the class isn’t physically on campus, these students are bringing their breadth of skills and talents to immediately make an impact on the USF community.

Hailing from nine states and four countries, the Class of 2021 is a passionate and dynamic group of 21 students whose academic and professional pursuits are as diverse and interesting as they are! This cohort brings a wealth of exciting knowledge and professional experiences to the table. These amazing students have, amongst other impressive accomplishments, interned at a Presidential library, visited excavation sites in Italy, published their own fiction, and sat as the Executive Director of a local non-profit. We are so excited to welcome this fantastic group of scholars to USF, and we can’t wait to see what they will contribute to the program in the future! Meet the Class of 2021!

Amy Anderson was born and raised in McKinney, Texas, just north of Dallas. The Dallas/Fort Worth art museums, like the Dallas Museum of Art and the Kimbell Art Museum, greatly influenced her goals for her future career. Before starting college, she first worked at the Heard-Craig Center for the Arts in McKinney, Texas where she quickly recognized the difficulties of working in a museum. In 2018, she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Art History. During her time at UT, she interned at the University of Texas Libraries in the Collection and Records Department, was the Vice President of the Art and Art History Department for the Fine Arts Council, and was part of the University Leadership Network. In her continued studies in art history, extracurricular activities, and adventures in the Learning Tuscany Study Abroad Program, she discovered her passion for collections and the need to care for them.

After graduating, Amy received the opportunity to intern at the Dallas Museum of Art in the Collections Department where she worked with the Loans and Acquisitions registrars. Through the internship, she was offered two contract positions to assist in documenting new end-of-the-year gifts and documenting the incoming exhibition at the time,  Dior: From Paris to the World. After the projects were completed, she received a position at the Collin County History Museum in McKinney, Texas as the Collections Manager. She reestablished the museum’s collection by reorganizing the objects’ storage, labels, and data in the PastPerfect database. While at the Collin County History Museum, she continued to intern at the Dallas Museum of Art. Amy is currently living in Austin, TX and enjoying her time “Keeping Austin Weird” during the time of COVID-19. Though she is disappointed that she could not move to San Francisco to experience the West Coast lifestyle and meet her incredible cohort in person, she is extremely excited to continue her growing education in the USF’s Museum Studies Graduate Program!

Miranda Bello has lived in California her entire life. Miranda graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Anthropology and a minor in History of Arts and Visual Cultures. During her undergraduate career Miranda strove to experience the world, getting an opportunity to travel to Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India for a five-week field study and Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan for a three-month study abroad program. During the field study in India, Miranda conducted and transcribed interviews and wrote a paper discussing a vocational program at Centurion University. She cannot wait to see and experience even more. Currently Miranda resides in Davis, CA experiencing graduate school, like the rest of her cohort, through Zoom.  

Vi Bui was born and raised in Hanoi, Vietnam. Vi first resided in Seattle, Washington, where they earned an A.A. from Cascadia College. After that, they moved to San Francisco and earned an A.S. from City College of San Francisco, followed by a B.A., magna cum laude, in Liberal Studies and a minor in Hospitality Management from San Francisco State University. 

Vi’s childhood always involved excursion trips to a gallery or a museum, as they enjoyed growing up with Art. Vi’s grandfather and father were both painters, so they had always had a gallery as a part of their home, which had a strong influence on shaping their artistic character. Vi was immersed in paintings and developed their love for Art from a young age. Recently, they volunteered for the Asian Art Museum, and the works of art that they saw there prompted them to ask many questions that confirmed their lifelong interest in the visual arts. One of Vi’s goals is to eventually be able to give back to the community that guided them to become who they are today. Vi is very grateful and excited to embark on their journey as a graduate student in the Museum Studies program at the University of San Francisco. Vi is currently living in San Francisco during the pandemic. 

Alexa Canova-Parker is a California native, growing up in Santa Barbara. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from University of Redlands, where she received her B.A. in History. Additional undergraduate areas of focus included Creative Writing and Art History, in which she received an A.A. from Santa Barbara City College. After graduation, her lifelong passion for museums led her to the Riverside Art Museum. As a docent, Alexa learned museums are much more than just art on the walls—museums are about people in their communities. Realizing her career lies in the museum field, she relocated to San Francisco to pursue an M.A. in Museum Studies at University of San Francisco. Alexa aims to be a part of the conversation between art and community, and recognizes the importance of museums as forums for education, civic dialogue, and engagement. As a museum professional, she desires to work with her colleagues to fashion museums of the twenty-first century—museums that value social justice, diversity, and accessibility. Along the way, she hopes to instill a lifelong love of the arts in others. 

Amy Dao was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. She graduated from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, with a B.A. in East Asian Studies and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most prestigious liberal arts honor society in the United States. During her four years as an undergraduate, she often worried about what career she could have with a degree in East Asian studies, especially after she decided to drop her Computer Science major, but two factors led her onto the path to a museum career. The first was her volunteer work at the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. She was in charge of greeting all the visitors and learning about what brought them into the museum. She realized how impactful the museum is for connecting people and as a learning tool for children to not forget the atrocities of the Holocaust. The second factor is her year-long study abroad opportunity in Hirakata, Osaka, Japan. There, she visited museums such as the Kyoto National Museum and the Tokugawa Art Museum and fell in love with the exhibits they had. These two factors led to her decision to continue her education in pursuit of a museum studies degree that will one day lead to a job in a museum with an Asian art collection. Today, she is riding out the pandemic in her family home in Tampa with plans on moving to San Francisco for the Spring 2021 semester.

Katherine Fussell has been passionate about museums since before she could walk. Whenever she would travel the country as a child, her parents would take her to as many museums as possible. She knew from the moment she could understand what museums were, that they were where she was meant to be. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Katherine was surrounded by the pressure to embrace high tech and business but she elected to pursue her true passions and went on to receive her B.A. in Art History with a minor in Museum Studies from San Francisco State University. While attending SF State, Katherine volunteered as a docent at the Walt Disney Family Museum, studied London’s museums in-depth through study abroad in England, gained hands-on collections training at the Global Museum on campus, and landed an internship at SFO Museum which turned into a part-time assistant registrar position. Now in her time at USF, Katherine seeks to gain knowledge in all aspects of the museum world but with an emphasis on collections. With a passion to pursue a career in collections management and/or registration, Katherine plans to make the most of her 18-month curriculum and cannot wait to see what she and her cohort achieve together!

Caroline Gruber is from Pacific Grove, California. She attended the University of California, Berkeley where she received a B.A. in Anthropology with a minor in Scandinavian Studies in the spring of 2020. Caroline has had a passion for museums since childhood, drawn to how these institutions provide education for the general public. She kindled her passion for museums and education at UC Berkeley where she worked as a Visitor Engagement Associate at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. As a Visitor Engagement Associate Caroline worked with the visitors by informing them about the exhibition, answering questions, and hearing out their comments and concerns. Caroline also had the opportunity to participate in the Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program in the collections at the Hearst Museum. Working in the collections gave Caroline insight into the conservation and archival process during her apprenticeship. Her work included rehousing Ancient Egyptian beads from 1200 BCE and photographing Roman coins for the museum’s online database. While at the Hearst, Caroline worked directly with the museum curators and helped construct their ‘Cloth that Stretches: Weaving Community Across Time and Space’ exhibit. Caroline’s minor in Scandinavian Studies focused on the Viking Age and she can translate Old Norse, a fact she is very proud of. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Caroline volunteers with the Monterey Museum of Art photographing their collection. 

Caroline looks forward to continuing her education with a M.A. in Museum Studies from the University of San Francisco.

Tessa Harden was born and raised in Visalia, CA, where she spent her time swimming, singing, raising sheep, but mostly reading biographies on obscure historical figures. She received her undergraduate degree at California State University, Fullerton. As someone with too many interests and unsure which to pursue, she applied as a psychology major, switched her major to business for a year, switched again to Communications, then added American Studies, which eventually earned her a B.A. in Communications and American Studies. Throughout all of the academic changes, she interned at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, CA, solidifying her love of museums and history. She even got to attend their grand re-opening ceremony in 2016, where she waved at Henry Kissinger.  After graduation, she thought she wanted to work as a publicist, but when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, it put things into perspective for her. Instead of following a career path she didn’t fully enjoy, she decided to pursue her passion of sharing history with the world. She is so excited to be able to learn more about the Museum field as part of the seventh Museum Studies cohort here at USF.

Hannah Jeffers grew up in Oakhurst, California near Yosemite National Park. She received her B.A. in Humanities from Thomas Edison State University and enjoyed her archaeology, anthropology, and art history courses most of all. She took a gap year between completing her undergraduate degree and beginning her graduate studies in which she traveled through Europe. The Louvre, the British Museum, the Coliseum, and the Vatican solidified her decision to pursue museum work as her career. After visiting several archaeological excavation sites in California and Italy, she has decided to work to best preserve, display, and research historical objects, especially ancient and classical objects.  She remains interested in museum professions or continuing her archaeological studies.

Sarah Kefalas was born in St. Louis, Missouri and raised in Decatur, Illinois. She went to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) for her undergraduate studies where she got a B.F.A. in preservation design with focuses in art history and museum studies. While at SCAD, Sarah spent a quarter in Lacoste, a small village in the Provence region of France. Sarah’s first museum job was as a historical interpreter at the Owens-Thomas House and Slaves Quarter in Savannah, Georgia. Also, during her time in undergrad, Sarah worked at the SCAD Museum of Art, a contemporary art museum in Savannah, and was a visitor experience associate. She also interned in the collection’s management department at the SCAD Museum of Art and learned all about how a collections department functions. After graduation, Sarah moved to San Francisco to start her career at USF.

Sarah currently works as a student athlete tutor at USF as well as a front desk associate at Karma Yoga Studio in San Francisco. When she is not in class or at work, Sarah likes to run, read, do yoga, and enjoy the outdoors with friends. Sarah is most interested in pursuing a career as an art curator and is looking forward to her future career!

Stephanie Kerry was born and raised in the East Bay. From a young age, Stephanie’s mother and grandmother (who does not like being called “grandmother”) took her to museums around the Bay Area. These visits to wildlife, art, and history museums fostered Stephanie’s broad interests in multiple topics in the museum field. From her father’s side, she developed a natural liking to history as a result of her family’s Greek-American pride. One of her favorite museum memories was visiting the Legion of Honor in 2006 to see the Monet in Normandy exhibition. In high school, Stephanie began to work at the Oakland Zoo, educating visitors about conservation and the many ways animals influence our planet. It was here that she realized the impact her words could have on visitors. Her passion as a docent inspired many to sign petitions, give donations, and most importantly, educate others.

After eighteen years in the Bay Area, Stephanie decided to move to Texas in order to attend Baylor University. In May of 2020, she graduated cum laude with her B.A. in both History and Economics. During her undergraduate studies, Stephanie primarily focused on Middle Eastern History and International Developmental Economics. Some of her favorite papers analyzed the intersection of women’s roles, religion, and historical conflicts through the lens of both of her majors. Stephanie was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority and the Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society. When not in the library or with friends, she taught Vinyasa Yoga classes at Baylor’s Student Life Center.

While at USF, Stephanie wants to broaden her knowledge of the museum’s role and continue her study of the Middle East. She enjoys exhibition planning and hopes to work in a history museum, preferably one with an expansive collection of Middle Eastern art and objects.

Jihyung Kim was born and grew up in Seoul, South Korea. She received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in Modern and Contemporary Korean History at Korea University. During her graduate years, she worked at Korean museums and governmental cultural heritage institutions such as Deoksugung Place, the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration, Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation, Korea University Museum, and the National Palace Museum of Korea. Based on these experiences, she obtained a curator certificate from the National Museum of Korea. Until recently, she was a research professor at the Center for Korean History at Korea University. She recently immigrated to the United States to start a new chapter of her life in the USF Museum Studies program. Her doctoral thesis theme was the Western perception of Korea in the late 19th century English-language newspapers. During her research she put a lot of effort into strengthening her international research ability by participating in overseas fieldwork in Japan and the United States. She has a vast array of knowledge on archives and photographs made by the English-language media of the three major East Asian countries (Korea, China, and Japan) and western countries (UK and USA) in the modern era. Also, she can access many different kinds of East Asian materials not only Korean but also Japanese, old Japanese, and old Chinese literature.

Her most memorable professional experience was when she worked at a museum in Korea and the exhibition she was in charge of was so successful she was interviewed on national/cable television and radio channels and newspapers. Now, she wishes to be able to create a more empathetic exhibition for Americans about historical cultural exchanges between the United States and East Asia from a global perspective in the future.

Natalie Koenig was born and raised in San Bruno, California. She received her A.A degree from Sonoma State University where she was a teaching assistant for art history students. She then received her B.A. degree from the University of Rhode Island where she studied communications and art history. After graduation, Natalie got her first museum job at the Preservation Society of Newport County in Rhode Island as a gallery guide. After returning to the bay area to pursue Museum Studies at USF, Natalie was thrilled to receive a position on the visitor experience team at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, where she works today. When school is not in session, Natalie has volunteered at museums such as the Peninsula Museum of Art and the Millbrae Museum as a docent. In her free time, she enjoys reading autobiographies, going to the library, and watching the San Francisco Giants games.

Sharon Levy graduated from Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA, in 2019. She majored in creative writing and film studies and minored in anthropology/archeology. Her degrees culminated in dual capstone projects: a short documentary about cooking and cultural identity in the Ashkenazi Jewish community and a historical fiction manuscript, where she was able to flex her research muscles. Between September 2017 and August 2018, she spent six months living abroad – first, studying archeology and creative writing for a semester at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and then as a member of the Lechaion Harbor and Settlement Land Project (LHSLP) excavation near Corinth, Greece during the summer 2018 season. 

Sharon has worked as an intern in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Special Collections Library, the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee in both the education and collections departments, the Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear, where she assisted in cataloguing portions of the collection, and the Milwaukee Public Museum in the anthropology department, where she assisted in writing a spotlight tour on Native American textiles for the 2019 Native Heritage Month special programing. 
She has several fiction publications, one both in print and online in the Coe Review and two in anthologies in 2018 and 2019. She was a member of the Coe Review editing board and the editor for the Coe Review blog from 2015 to 2018. She also co-hosted a horror media podcast through the Coe College radio station from the spring of 2018 to the spring of 2019. She hopes to bring these diverse experiences to the field of collections management and digitization of collections. She is originally from Brookfield, Wisconsin, where she returned after undergrad and is attending the USF program virtually.

Colbie Little is a southern California native, born and raised in Simi Valley, a Los Angeles suburb. She graduated with honors from UCLA with a B.A. in history with a focus on social justice movements in the United States. Colbie’s passion for museums started when she was young, and she chose to pursue a career in museum studies to provide learning experiences for young kids in underprivileged communities so they could feel the same fantastical excitement as she did. When not visiting or learning about museums, Colbie is a barista at a local vegan and gluten free cafe. Her other hobbies include baking, skateboarding, and going to Disneyland.

Crystal Looney was born in Southern California, but has lived in Las Vegas NV and Northern Colorado and now lives in the valley of the sun, Phoenix AZ. She finished her undergraduate degree at Arizona State university in December of 2019 with a B.A. in Classical Civilizations. She decided to pursue a career in the museum field because she loves that they preserve and protect the history of the world for the future.  She loves history and believes that her passion for it will help her career in the future. Her hobbies include reading (her library has over 500 books) and taking in baseball games when she can, her favorite team is the Atlanta Braves. She also likes to cosplay with her sister for the Phoenix ComiCon that takes place during Memorial Day weekend. She may want to have a career that focuses on education in the museum field, but she also is keeping her options open for the future.

Caillean Magee grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota where she is living during the program due to Covid-19 restrictions. She was a competitive Irish Dancer and Musician throughout high school and early college. For her undergraduate studies she attended Saint Catherine University in Saint Paul, MN where she received a B.A. in Chemistry with a concentration in Biochemistry and a minor in Latin. During her undergraduate studies she was able to go abroad during the January-Term three times, going to England, Italy, Nepal, and Guatemala. It was during her trip to England and Italy in 2016 studying the History of Medicine that she realized museums, not medicine was her passion. She volunteered for the Bell Museum in Saint Paul, MN as a docent until the Covid-19 Pandemic started. In her spare time, she enjoys delving into her family history and creating a family tree/history website that her entire extended family can see and enjoy. She is passionate about curating in science, natural history, and history museums and hopes to become a director in the future.

Caitlin Mckinin grew up in Chico, California. She received her A.A. from Butte Community College, and her B.A. in Anthropology from California State University of Chico. During her time at Chico State, Caitlin served as a member of Stop Trafficking of Persons (STOP), as well as the Chico Anthropological Society (CAS). Caitlin has volunteered at  the Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology and has helped with their fundraisers. She also had the opportunity to assist in developing their maritime exhibit, which focused on nautical artifacts. It was during the creation of this exhibit that she realized that she wanted to pursue a career in the museum world.

Growing up, Caitlin’s family stressed the importance of giving back. She was raised on a ranch, and her family would foster various rescue animals, from horses to dogs, and even a bearded dragon. As a result of her upbringing, Caitlin feels very passionate about social justice. She was a member of Anonymous for the Voiceless, an animal rights organization in Chico. She also continues to serve the community by doing volunteer work. This includes using her cosmetology degree to give free haircuts to those in need.

 A self-proclaimed art lover, Caitlin’s hobbies include photography, pointillism, and card making. She has deep love for visiting all types of museums and particularly enjoys European renaissance art and medieval architecture. Being accepted into the Museum Studies Master’s program at the University of San Francisco has been a dream come true. Caitlin is eager to begin her career as a museum professional with the knowledge and skills she learns from this program. 

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Alice Timmins is originally from London, United Kingdom. She studied Art History and English Literature at the University of East Anglia, writing her dissertation on graphic novels. After graduating, she interned at a contemporary art gallery and worked within the nonprofit sector. Employed at the UK’s leading arts charity, she helped organize art workshops for vulnerable groups, gaining experience in project management, community relationship building, and informal education. Moving to San Francisco in 2017, she joined the board of Green Art Workshop (GAW), a Bay Area nonprofit organization, and in January 2020 became Executive Director. Prior to her role at GAW, she worked at The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco as a visitor experience associate. She is interested in exhibition methods, informal education, and hopes to use her nonprofit background to advocate for greater access and inclusion within museum institutions. Alice enjoys rock climbing, cycling, and using her hands to embroider and make clothes for her baby niece. During the lockdown, she has sewn face masks for friends and family and started learning Spanish.

Kimberly Toscano was born and raised in beautiful, sunny, Long Beach, California. Passionate about the study of history, archaeology, literature, art and languages of the ancient Greek and Roman world, she pursued and received her B.A. in Classics at California State University of Long Beach. As a student she became president of Eta Sigma Phi, the National Honorary Classical Fraternity where she oversaw club programming, planned fundraisers and hosted guest speaker events on campus. After graduation she worked as a dance instructor teaching ballet, jazz and hip-hop classes to both children and adults as well as held a position for the City of Long Beach where she worked on public programming for older adults.

In 2019, she took a summer-long trip backpacking from hostel to hostel all through Europe. It was after a summer of exploring beautiful landscapes and having the chance to visit several museums, she realized this was the exact environment she wanted to have a career in. With a passion for museums, teaching, community outreach and programming, she decided to pursue a graduate degree in Museum Studies. She is ecstatic to be joining the Museum Studies program at USF (even if it’s digitally!) and excited to gain the knowledge and acquire the essential skills to transition into the museum field.

Ashley Julia Vairo was born in Asheville, North Carolina and was raised in Carmel, New York. She received her undergraduate degree in History with a focus in Early Modern Europe from Western Connecticut State University. During her time at WCSU she had an internship at the Keeler Tavern in Ridgefield, CT where she created a living annotated bibliography for site sources and the reinterpretation of the museum. During this time she was privileged to experience all aspects of a small historic house museum. The experience helped her develop a knowledge of museum practices and inner workings of a museum. By working in a historic home, Ashley cultivated her love for historic sites and their importance in telling stories of the past. She wrote her capstone thesis on the importance of historic sites and using them as primary sources. This love for historic sites has been a lifelong passion of Ashley’s and she has been inspired by them from a young age.

In her free time Ashley loves to travel, she makes a point to explore the countries that have inspired her love for historic sites. Since she was young, travel has always been a priority and has continued to fuel her drive for preserving historic sites. Ashley chose to get a Master’s degree at USF in Museum Studies to further her education and experience in the museum field and to better prepare for preserving these important sites. Ashley has goals to continue to travel and work with the historic sites that inspired her undergraduate concentration of Early Modern Europe, especially French and English landmarks. Ashley also loves to cook, spend time with family and friends, and go on hikes with her dog.

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