Denison Grads in Grad School: Master of Fine Art

Lindsay Martin

Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2013
Denison Majors:  Studio Art; English (Creative Writing)
Graduate Degree Type:  Master of Fine Art (MFA) from Oregon College of Art & Craft, Class of 2019
Contact Me:  lindsaymartingrys@gmail.com


Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate school and career pathway: what impacted your decision?

After Denison University, I worked for Akron Art Museum and a historical home museum. After a few years of learning the many roles in a museum career path, I researched arts administration and museum studies graduate degrees. However, my passion was painting, which I continued during my free time after Denison. I decided to look into schools that have a liberal approach for research topics and schools that may possibly feed both interests, learning more about contemporary painting and museum studies. I spoke with many professors about my interests and read program’s academic curriculum. Ultimately, I chose a few schools based on the mentors I would work with and their research interests, and I am very glad that I did. I chose Oregon College of Art and Craft because of its mentor-based learning, traditional craft expertise, small classes and campus, thriving arts scene location, and a graduate assistantship opportunity. I do regret not looking for more funded programs, but also chose my program based on scholarships. I am very happy with my decision, as I was able to tailor my masters degree to my interests, have many off-site field excursions to contemporary art institutes, and have a full bodied painting studio and research project, while working in a gallery and for the college’s marketing and development.

What challenges did you face on the way to or during graduate school, and how did you overcome them?

Financial challenges were imminent, I had to pick up odd jobs and even take a semester off to assist with the financial difficulties. I am not sure if I would move to a more expensive city for graduate school, many friends did better in less urban school settings. The odd jobs got in the way of many extra curricular opportunities, such as networking outings and gallery openings. I had to balance both and completely put my program first, leaving my family and often relying on my partner for household responsibilities. I am in a lot of debt with over half of my tuition covered in scholarships. For an art degree, emotional and psychological changes also took place when work was heavily critiqued. The work evolved very quickly. It was a very stressful two years, but my motivation was very independent, while some students took time off to relax, I used the two years to really push myself and do not regret that. Professional challenges also happened, I had to learn how to speak publicly, introduce myself to a room full of strangers, talk about my artwork in front of a large lecture hall, learn how to teach in a current academic climate.

What was your favorite part of your graduate school experience?

Because I really researched my mentor and professors, I really enjoyed my education, working with my professors, and establishing a long term relationship with them. I enjoyed our projects and off site trips, everything that was optional I participated in that and I have no regrets. I enjoyed getting out of my comfort zone and acquainting myself in a new arts community and city-I wish that I could stay in such a city long term, definitely think about making connections in a place you want to live long term. I enjoyed my cohort and established long term relationships with fellow students. I met amazing people from all over the world and now consider them family. I was pushed and motivated to create more work than I ever thought possible. I was able to develop critical inquiry and language around a subject that I will enjoy for the rest of my life. I enjoyed teaching and residency opportunities.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

Post-graduation for fine arts graduates is very challenging and difficult. We often are not given a position right out of school and have to apply to even more difficult post-graduate programs right after the most intense few years of our lives. I have enjoyed showing my thesis body of work in multiple national galleries and opportunities for scholarship-funded workshops in Colorado and Ohio. I am working on moving across the country for my partner’s business, establishing a new studio, applying to shows, creating more work and applying for art positions. Currently, I work at a non-art related professional job that will cover studio expenses, debt, and allow me to save money for long term residency next year. I just graduated six months ago. I am also planning a long term business plan for starting up my own contemporary art-related business.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate program like yours?

An MFA is a truly incredible experience for yourself, your art and your arts community. It is important to utilize every opportunity to the fullest extent, and know that there is no external reward for your incredible achievements in the art world for a very very long time. Once you graduate, the rewards are purely internal. You may realize that teaching is incredibly exhausting and you only want to practice art. You may realize that your practice changed completely altogether, and may be even outside traditional art media. In order to be a full time artist, you must sacrifice a lot of comfort. If you think you will make money or grab a comfortable position after art school, this is not the degree for you at all. This is a huge long term financial sacrifice. If you want to commit yourself to your artwork, to becoming a better artist, individual, community member, if you enjoy not only contemporary art, but philosophy, history, museum studies, pedagogical studies, research, reading and writing, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Denison Grads in Grad School: MS in Petrology

Lindsey Hernandez

Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2016
Denison Major:  Geosciences
Graduate Degree Type:  MS in Petrology from The Ohio State University, Class of 2020
Contact Me:  hernandez.641@osu.edu


Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate school and career pathway: what impacted your decision?

From undergraduate research at Denison, I already knew that I wanted to work in petrology/volcanology, so that helped me focus my graduate school search. I started out by reading journal articles on research I was interested in and began to contact the authors to see if they would be looking for students (and if there was available funding). This allowed me to put feelers out before beginning the application process so that I wouldn’t waste time applying to a school that couldn’t offer funding. Also, most applications asked for the name of your potential advisor, so getting that first contact is important! My decision was based mostly on the funding available—I was offered a fellowship at OSU with a stipend and full tuition waiver, which was a great offer. However, I also thought it was important to consider how well I would get along with my potential advisor, since graduate school requires you to work pretty closely with them. In addition to meeting my potential advisor and discussing potential research projects with him, I also talked to his current graduate students about their time at OSU and their experience working under him to get a feel for if that environment would be a good fit for me.

What challenges did you face on the way to or during graduate school, and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge I faced during graduate school was getting up to speed on my research project. My graduate research is pretty different from my undergraduate research, and we use different methods. I also have a lot less guidance as a graduate student, so it can seem a little overwhelming and confusing at times. Starting off, I spent a lot of time reading journal articles, upper level textbooks, and learning from my lab mates in order to get a better feel for motivation and methods of the projects my advisor oversees. After I gained more understanding, I was able to find my groove and customize the focus of my project to something that fits my interests. Finding my niche has made graduate school incredibly fun and engaging, even if it took a lot of work to get to this point!

What has been your favorite part of your graduate school experience so far?

My favorite part of graduate school is my research! I have learned the most though doing research and analyzing my data. I have a lot of freedom in the approaches I take, which allows me to explore ideas and answer really interesting questions. I was also able to get financial support for fieldwork for my project, which is allowing me to go to Guatemala to collect samples of lava, which is an incredible opportunity!

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

After finishing my MS degree, I plan to stay at OSU to pursue my PhD and continue working on my project. After fishing my PhD, I hope to work for an agency or institution at which I can continue working on the geology of Guatemala.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate program like yours?

My biggest recommendation is to do research as an undergraduate. This is so helpful because it teaches you how to approach a research project in graduate school, and how to work independently. Denison has amazing undergraduate research opportunities, so take advantage of them! In addition, having some computer programming skills is very helpful in graduate school—almost every class I have taken has required the use of some sort of program, and having an understanding of coding basics beforehand lets you focus on the subject matter of the assignment, instead of the logistics of coding. I recommend taking at least one computer science course at Denison so that you are better prepared for this. Not to mention, being able to code allows you to do some pretty cool stuff in your own research, as well!

Denison Grads in Grad School: MS in Digital Marketing

Ashmita Das

Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2018
Denison Major(s):  English Literature & Communication
Graduate Degree Type:  MS in Digital Marketing from Dublin City University, Class of 2019
Contact Me:  das_a3@denison.edu


Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate school and career pathway: what impacted your decision?

I wanted to move back to Europe for my masters. I narrowed down the country with the course I wanted to do. Ireland is the only country in Europe with a masters degree in digital marketing. As for the school I picked, I looked into rankings, where the alumni were working and the number and reputation of the accreditation’s that the business school had.

What challenges did you face on the way to or during graduate school, and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge I faced in graduate school was combating imposter syndrome. I knew nothing about marketing, web development or data analytics. I kept thinking that I didn’t really belong in the course and struggled with changing the way I studied, or even the way I write my papers. The only way I could overcome it was to face all of the challenges head on. I got a lot of help from my classmates in navigating all of the subjects and spent more time than I had ever spent just doing assignments and keeping up with my work. Since my degree was only a year, I realized that I just had to put my life on hold and give my 110% in finishing my degree.

What was your favorite part of your graduate school experience?

My favorite part has definitely been the people I’ve met through not only the course, but also just by virtue of living in a new country. I have honestly been taken aback by how close I’ve become with my classmates in just a few months and how willing everyone has been to help so that everyone succeeds. The environment of healthy competition and support has definitely been a pleasant surprise.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

I plan to stay on in Dublin, Ireland for the next year or so and work as a Digital Marketing Executive.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate program like yours?

Definitely do a lot of research on the college. Specially when moving countries. I spent a lot of time in picking the university I did. Don’t just go by a big name. Also, I would definitely recommend reaching out to alumni and asking for advice and experiences. Figure out if that’s the kind of experience you’re looking for. I’ve learned that the same course in different colleges, just in Dublin, offer vastly different experiences and different strengths and weaknesses.

Denison Grads in Grad School: PhD in Computer Science

Will Brackenbury

Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2015
Denison Major(s):  Theatre & Economics
Graduate Degree Type:  PhD in Computer Science from University of Chicago, Class of 2022
Contact Me:  will.brackenbury1@gmail.com


Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate school and career pathway: what impacted your decision?

I had been working as a consultant for a year and a half at the time. I was enjoying what I was doing, but as I looked ahead to the next steps in my career, I realized that the aspects of the job I enjoyed–data analysis, programming, and writing database queries–would diminish to almost nothing. I realized that attending graduate school in Computer Science would allow me to continue doing all these things, and in fact, would increase their importance in whatever job I would hold in the future.

What challenges did you face on the way to or during graduate school, and how did you overcome them?

The first year was especially challenging. Because I had been a Computer Science minor, and not a Computer Science major at Denison, I was comparatively behind my peers in terms of subject matter knowledge. Additionally, the first year was when course requirements were most demanding. I had little time to devote to the aspects of the graduate school experience I enjoyed most (research, attending seminars), and this was very draining. However, I had built a community among my fellow PhD students, and by leaning on each other, we helped motivate each other to make it through the most difficult times.

What has been your favorite part of your graduate school experience so far?

I absolutely love the subject matter, and because of this, the job of being a PhD student is the best I can imagine. The incredible freedom to mold my own working and learning experience is easily my favorite aspect of graduate school.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

I plan to work in a research lab in industry after graduation.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate program like yours?

If you’re able, get involved in research as an undergraduate. I was lucky enough to have had the chance to participate in summer research at Denison, and the publication resulting from that experience was a major differentiator in my application.

Denison Grads in Grad School: MBA

Amanda Adornato

Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2018
Denison Major:  Economics
Graduate Degree Type:  Master of Business Administration (MBA) from John Carroll University Boler College of Business, Class of 2019
Contact Me:  amanda.adornato@gmail.com


Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate school and career pathway: what impacted your decision?

I knew after I graduated from Denison, I wanted to go straight to graduate school and receive my MBA. I applied to about 5-6 MBA programs ranging from the Midwest to the East Coast. I looked at schools that were small to medium sized, had a strong alumni network, strong reputation, as well as programs that had an internship/working experience component. I chose John Carroll University because they had an accelerated Full-Time MBA program of 16 months instead of 2 years and an internship component. That was very enticing to me as well as their strong alumni network and career placement.

What challenges did you face on the way to or during graduate school, and how did you overcome them?

The main challenge I face is limited work experience. While in undergrad, I did obtain two internships at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management as well as an externship, which was a good foundation going into the program with limited work experience. However, it was challenging at times to connect topics and concepts to work experiences when I was just fresh out of undergrad. But having many business professionals in my classes helped me overcome this hindrance through learning from their shared experiences and discussions in class and working with them on group projects and class assignments. The internship component also increased my exposure and experience to real work life matters. I am able to experience, see, and connect what I am learning in the classroom. Hands on learning is the best kind of learning!

What is your favorite part of your graduate school experience?

My favorite part of graduate school are the professors! They bring so much experience and knowledge into the classroom. They have a vast network that you can utilize and connect with in order to leverage your career.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

Post-graduation, I hope to land a job working for a fashion company’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio working in their planning and allocation department.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate program like yours?

Receiving an MBA is so viable and important if you aspire and want to obtain a leadership role in a company. If you decide to work for a couple years then go back to school or go straight out of undergrad, both paths have their pros and cons, but both will lead you to receiving a degree that will allow you to leverage your career to the fullest! Embrace the challenge and success is waiting for you!