Friday, 12 May 2017




Greetings! I am so pleased to be the contributing editor for The Grad School Guide this summer. As I contemplated what valuable tips should be shared with incoming and/or current grad students, I got seriously sidetracked by S-Town. This podcast, as some of you may already know, is hosted by Brian Reed and was released in March 2017 by the producers of Serial. It’s about John B McLemore, a man who hates his hometown of Woodstock, Alabama. He reaches out to Brian and asks him to investigate a local crime, but once the research begins, an entirely new story is unearthed. Suddenly, Reed (and every listener) gets caught up in the life of John B. Fear not, I won’t reveal any spoilers.

John B often quotes passages found on sundials, an interesting tradition I became fascinated with. As a human who is enrolled in post-graduate education and is also desperately trying to manage every other aspect of my life, I am dedicating my first column of The Grad School Guide to sundial philosophy. I hope that from this time-measuring wisdom, graduate students will be inspired to become true masters of Museum Studies.

“Vita in motu” - Life is in motion
Accept that everyone is coming from a different stage of their life, and most importantly, different areas of expertise. Do not doubt your abilities. Instead, be confident in what you do know, and try approaching your insecurities with being open to learning about what you don’t know. Show up to as many events as you can. There are countless educational and professional development opportunities, and time moves quickly! Take advantage!

“Be as true to each other as this dial is to the sun”
Get to know your peers! These are the people you will work with during and after your degree. This will be your first network of museum professionals! Recognize your own strengths and weaknesses, offer your help when appropriate, and don’t be afraid to ask for help in return. I have learned so much simply by listening to what my classmates have contributed in lecture, group projects, or while editing their papers. Be open, be interested, and be yourself. 

“Take the gifts of this hour”
The gift of this hour is this: the bathrooms in the Bissell building basement are the best. There are a lot of them, and no one is ever there. You’re welcome.
“Altera pars otio, pars ista labori” - Devote this hour to work, another to leisure
Explore! Visit museums with your classmates. Discuss what you liked about your visit and what you didn’t. Go over what you failed to understand and share what you did. You’ll quickly learn that each person notices different things. This practice will allow you to get to know your friends better, it will open your eyes to different methods of interpretation, and this process will better prepare you for class discussions and assignments.

“Vivere memento” - Remember to live
Get out of your home, the museum, work, etc., and do something completely unrelated. Try a new restaurant (there are SO MANY in the area – contact me, I will hook you up); go to SkyZone trampoline park; go to a regular park; visit an escape room etc. etc. etc. Live that life of yours!

“Dum tempus habemus operemur bonum” - While we have time, let us do good
Don’t be too serious. Life as a student is stressful, but it is also a special time where we have the freedom to take chances. Research what you’re passionate about. Find what works best for you. As museum professionals, we have the opportunity to make a difference in the way people understand art, history, and objects. Do good with it.

“Tedious and Brief”
This is one phrase that isn’t found on a sundial; rather, it’s something John B repeats in S Town. Nevertheless, I think it’s something that’s worth reminding ourselves of. Yes, at times, things can seem tedious. But in the grand scheme of things, it is incredibly brief. Take time to remind yourself that it is most definitely worthwhile.

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