Posts Tagged ‘alumna’

Meet Alumna Lorena Sferlazza ’15, Artist / Educator at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)

October 31st, 2018 by aclauson

Meet Alumna Lorena Sferlazza ’15, Artist / Educator at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)

 

Name: Lorena Sferlazza

Class Year: 2015

Title: Artist, Educator

Organization Name: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)

Portfolio: www.lorenasferlazza.com, Instagram @lorenasferlazza https://www.instagram.com/lorenasferlazza/

 

In brief, what does your job entail?

I am a painter, photographer, and reflective thinker completing a Master of Fine Arts in May 2019 and assistant teaching at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia, our nation’s first art school and museum. Prior to PAFA, I worked at Sotheby’s in New York City for two years as a front-of-house financial administrator, facilitating the payment, collection, and shipment of artwork post-auction. On a personal note, I am a plant-based eater, runner, and continue to remotely assist fundraising efforts as a founding member for Kal-Pa-Vriksh “The Giving Tree” 501(c)3 Nonprofit, which benefits education for disadvantaged youth in India and the U.S. (http://www.kal-pa-vriksh.org/).

 

What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?  

Over the summer after I graduated, a close friend from Holy Cross knew I was looking for work in the auction industry in New York City, because I had interned at an auction house while studying abroad for a year in Florence, Italy. She sent me the initial contact information, and five interviews later, I landed a job at Sotheby’s. I ended up working in two departments during my time there before realizing that the industry would not suit my long term career goals. I needed to get back into creating my own artwork and have meaningful conversations about the significance of art-making in today’s world. That is when I decided to honor my long-held dream of pursuing an MFA, the terminal degree in the Visual Arts required for teaching in higher education, which is ultimately what I’m looking to do. I’m very grateful for my experience at Sotheby’s, and it took a lot of courage for me to leave. Though with a scholarship to the Academy and a gut feeling it was the right decision, I moved to Philly last year for graduate school.

 

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I was very involved on campus, in part because I had so many interests and also because I loved the community. Academically, I participated in the College Honors and Pre-Business programs, tutored Italian, and represented C.O.E.S. (Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies) and the Visual Arts department on their student advisory boards. I also served in HC’s faith-based gatherings as a liturgical coordinator, lector, R.C.I.A. mentor, worship leader for adoration, Taizé, and interfaith prayer, and participated in the many retreats, Spring Break Immersion trips, and freshly baked cookie binges that Campion had to offer. Recreationally, I enjoyed performing with friends at our acoustic 10Spot sets in Hogan, talking to prospective students as a tour guide and outreach coordinator for Admissions, cooking for the Italian department’s annual Pasta Olympics, dancing in the annual Noche Latina and UP 4 THE FIGHT Dance Marathons, and playing pick-up soccer games.

 

What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

My critical study of language at Holy Crossvisual, spoken, and writtenserves as the root of my artistic practice. I graduated with a double major in Visual Arts (Studio) and Italian (Linguistics and Literature) from the College Honors Program, through which I completed an interdisciplinary thesis, Addressing the Wound: An Artistic Exploration of Human Pain. Several courses led me to this thesis, including Dr. Christopher Dustin’s Philosophy of Art, Dr. Mathew Schmalz’s Religion and Violence, visiting professor Rev. A. Maria Arul Raja’s Dalits: Theology of the Oppressed, and Prof. Cristi Rinklin’s Senior Studio Concentration Seminar. My research began a persistent inquiry for me on the relevance of art-making in healing after trauma, negotiating the past, recognizing our temporality, and building a sustainable world in the face of crisis. At its core, my understanding of art-making is both a meditative practice and socially engaged tool that provokes our most innate knowledge of who we are, through visceral language that words often fail to express. This purpose both excites and challenges my career as an artist.

 

What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

Thinking critically and interdisciplinarily are the two most impactful skills I developed while at Holy Cross. Being an artist requires you to probe beyond yourself, from most intensely inwards to keenly outwards with an inquisitive mind. Why create the way you do? What is your purpose and relevance to contemporary justice issues? How can your craft improve technically and conceptually to better relay your intended message? In graduate school at PAFA, these are the questions we dissect the most, through our studio work, thesis writing, weekly faculty-student critiques, seminars, visiting artist lectures, teaching assistantship opportunities, and peer discussions over food after hours. These are the questions that I’m excited to continue examining through a teaching career in higher education.

 

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

Pursue your passions and forge your own path. Participate in activities that fulfill you, not to resume build, but to enrich your mind and friendships along the way. If you have the chance, study abroad. I grew the most during my time away. Be honest with and take care of yourself: you cannot pour from an empty cup. Savor every Cool Beans conversation, late night run around the track, snowstorm lock down and Kimball tray sledding excursion, roommate coffee breaks during all-nighters in the Dinand stacks, and extended office hours with professors who care, because your time on the hill is precious. Be excited for your journey!

Meet Alumna Kelly Garcia ’15, Special Education Teacher at Excel Academy Charter High School

October 15th, 2018 by aclauson

Meet Alumna Kelly Garcia ’15, Special Education Teacher at Excel Academy Charter High School

 

Name: Kelly Garcia

Class Year: 2015

Current Title/Employer:

  • Special Education Teacher at Excel Academy Charter High School – East Boston, MA
  • Vice Chairwoman of the Chelsea School Board – Chelsea, MA

Graduate Degrees (if applicable): Master’s in Education from Boston University

 

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

As a Special Education Teacher, my job entails the implementation of Individual Education Plans (IEP) for students with learning disabilities, such as, Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

(ADHD), and etc. and accommodating the curriculum so that they are successful in the classroom.

 

What if any, unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross?   

During my sophomore year, I went on a service trip to Dangriga, Belize where 12 other Holy Cross students volunteered at Holy Ghost, an elementary school. It was on this trip that I fell in love with working with children and discovered my passion for teaching. Then, I tutored at a local school in Worcester the remaining years at Holy Cross. When senior year came, I applied to Teach for America and got in! I am now in my third year of teaching and am also an elected official in my city. I serve as the District 7 School Board Member and Vice Chairwoman of the board in Chelsea, MA.

 

How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

Giving back to my community and advocating for students in urban school districts is a passion I developed shortly after my years at Holy Cross. I am fortunate and eternally grateful I found my passion  and will continue finding innovative ways to improve my community.

 

What were you involved in when you were on campus?  

Pernet Family Health Services, Community Harvest Project, Pathfinder (Passport Program), Study Abroad (studied in Argentina for a semester), Multicultural Peer Educator, Teaching Assistant in Dangriga, Belize, CASA, BSU,  and LASO.

 

What was your major and how has it affected your career decisions?   

Majoring in Psychology allowed me to develop a deeper understanding of the differences that exist in our society, and taught me to accept everyone for who they are. Developing an acceptance of all differences and all personalities has truly benefited me in the classroom, and has made my job incredibly rewarding.

 

What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?   

The importance of genuinely listening and the art of networking.

-Asking alumni for advice instead of a job

-Stepping out of your comfort zone and challenging the “norm” allows you to GROW! Don’t be afraid to go against what is socially accepted

Meet Alumna Lilse McKenna ’11, Founder of Lilse McKenna Inc.

October 12th, 2018 by aclauson

 

Meet Alumna Lilse McKenna ’11, Founder of Lilse McKenna Inc.

 

Name: Lilse Rodgers McKenna

Class Year: 2011

Title: Founder

Organization Name: Lilse McKenna Inc

 

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

As the founder of a residential interior design firm my job entails everything from reviewing architectural drawings and overseeing contractors, to drawing furniture plans, designing furniture and scheming rooms, to managing the orders, timelines, and installations for a project.

 

What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?  

 

During my senior year at Holy Cross I had big plans to go to law school.  At the time I thought that it would be the most logical and practical fit for me, and I took the LSAT class offered at Holy Cross to prepare for the exam.  We were encouraged to take study breaks in between practice tests, and I found myself filling that time with interior design magazines like House Beautiful, Veranda, and Architectural Digest, and countless design blogs.

 

After taking the LSAT and starting to pull together my applications for law school I realized my heart wasn’t in it.  Since long before the LSAT I’d enjoyed reading about and discussing interior design with my grandmother, and she and my mother both believed I had shown some innate talent in decorating. My Mom had often suggested I pursue it as a career, but I had the impression that most successful designers had degrees in interior design or a lifestyle that enabled them to open a firm “for fun.”

 

After graduation I applied for jobs in advertising and marketing, but nothing really felt like the right fit.  In a moment of frustration with the job search process I googled the phone number for the office of my favorite interior designer at the time and asked if they needed an intern.  They asked how soon I could start.

 

Within the first week of the internship, I knew I’d found the right career fit for me in interior design.  Suddenly all of the knowledge I’d accumulated about interior design throughout my life, which I’d long thought was useless and just a hobby, had real value.  I also started to see the opportunity to put another interest of mine, business and entrepreneurship, to use.  I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and just as my knowledge of interior design had been somewhat subliminal, so too was my understanding of work and business through the lens of an entrepreneur.   Having an understanding of how entrepreneurs think and operate gave me a leg up as an intern, and later an employee, of small business owners.  I soon found out that neither a degree in design nor a large trust fund were necessary to start a successful interior design business.

 

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I volunteered at Dismas House, was a club chair for the Comunications, Advertising & Marketing Club, and interned for the Public Affairs office.

 

What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

I was an English major and I think my creative writing classes gave me some insight into how much I enjoyed creative work.  The time I spent working on the assignments for those classes flew by, even when the assignments were difficult.

 

 What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

While I was at Holy Cross I learned to be very disciplined about my time because I found that the school work load would sneak up on me if I wasn’t consistently setting aside time at the library.  In my industry it is very easy to be distracted by the creative part of the job and put the paperwork on the backburner.  Unfortunately that is probably the quickest way to go out of business, so in life as in school I try to set aside specific time dedicated to the paperwork.

 

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

Trust your instincts when it comes to your future.  Don’t force a career choice, or any choice for that matter, solely because it appears to be the most pragmatic.  If it doesn’t feel right it isn’t, and you should take the time to find what is right for you.  Also, pay attention to what interests you, even the things you think of as silly hobbies or the curiosities you take for granted.  Today more than ever there is value in being an expert in a specialized field, so why not take advantage of that?