Now we'd like to introduce you to Lauren Van Zandt. Lauren is also a second-year Public History graduate student. We've featured Lauren on our blog before, as she also happens to be one of our graduate assistants.
In October, Lauren had the extraordinary opportunity of presenting her scholarly research at a professional conference--a conference where the attendees are primarily professionals in the field of studio art and art history (e.g. curators, professors, etc.).
We asked Lauren to tell us a little bit about how she ended up getting to go to the conference, as well as her experience while there.
|Lauren Van Zandt|
Hi, I’m Lauren Van Zandt, a second year student in Duquesne’s Public History MA program. This October, I presented a paper at the Southeastern College Art Conference, or SECAC.
The road to SECAC actually started about a year ago with Dr. Julia Sienkewicz's Early American Painting and Sculpture class in the fall of 2013. Our big project for the class was a research paper on a piece of art at the US Capitol. I chose the Columbus Doors, which are located on the east side of the Capitol. The doors, which date from the mid-1800s, are cast bronze and covered with relief sculpture depicting the life of Christopher Columbus. The highlight of the project was getting special access to see the doors in person at the Capitol. (Due to security concerns, the area the doors are located in is completely inaccessible to the public.) Pictures do not do these doors justice!
After completing my project, I presented a simplified version of my paper at the regional Phi Alpha Theta conference at Slippery Rock University in April of 2014. This was basically a practice run for the main event, which turned out to be SECAC.
I actually applied to SECAC with very little expectation of my paper being accepted. SECAC is a professional organizational, and most of the people I met there were professors, curators, and other people working in the studio and art history fields. Once I got the email that my paper had been accepted (!?!?!?!), I immediately got to work adapting my paper and putting together my presentation. Dr. Sienkewicz was very supportive and helpful in this process.
The 2014 SECAC conference was held in beautiful Sarasota, so while I wasn’t at the conference I got to explore the area, eating delicious seafood, visiting the Selby Botanical Gardens, and visiting with my parents who drove down to see me from my hometown in south Louisiana.
Presenting was somewhat intimidating because not only was I the only one on my panel who didn’t have a PhD, I also was the first person to speak. Despite this, I survived the experience and even though I made a few mistakes, I don’t know that the audience even noticed. People were very supportive and encouraging, and SECAC was a great opportunity to meet other grad students and professionals.
I was able to cover the costs of travel and lodging for the conference with funding from the McAnulty Graduate School of Liberal Arts at Duquesne University and through the Gulnar Bosch Student Travel Assistance Grant from SECAC. Many conferences have travel scholarships available for students who are presenting, and I am so grateful to have gotten that support as well as the funding from Duquesne!
I had a great time at SECAC, and being able to present was an incredibly rewarding experience, both personally and professionally. I would definitely encourage other students to apply to present at conferences- you never know what could happen!
Thanks, Lauren! We're so proud of the work you're doing in our program and are thrilled that you had the experience to present at a professional conference!
For those of you who are interested in attending conferences as students, here is a helpful link that the Duquesne University Bookstore tweeted out this morning!
And if you're a graduate student in the McAnulty Graduate School at Duquesne University, the Dean's Office offers up to $500 of funding for graduate students who present their work at conferences. Contact us for more information.The #College Student's Guide To Professional Conferences - http://t.co/iJgNQZhdMX pic.twitter.com/zeKCvBkNnl— Duquesne Bookstore (@DuquesneBooks) November 20, 2014