Whenever I first introduce myself, my application to the Bolz Center seems like it was inevitable. I am a lifelong Wisconsin resident and already have one degree from UW-Madison. Before arriving on campus this fall, I had spent the past four years in nonprofit fundraising at Milwaukee Repertory Theater, the second largest arts organization in the state. Chad Bauman, managing director of The Rep, guest lectures in the Arts Administration Seminar class. And given my interest in arts administration and fact that I never lived outside of the Midwest means it has never been a question of if I had met a Bolz Center alum before, but instead how many; even before I considered applying, I believe the number was up to ten.
Despite these factors, my path was not as clear-cut as it appears.
Would you be surprised if I told you I majored in computer sciences and before that, I planned to become an engineer? Despite endless explanations, some close family members don’t clearly understand how I ended up in business school studying the arts. Having lived through this journey, I can assure you everything makes perfect sense. Although my diploma states otherwise, I consider my experiences with Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Music Committee to be the true focus of my undergraduate education. Throughout my four years of involvement, I booked a soon-to-be Grammy Award winner, went to South by Southwest, and eventually led the student committee responsible for 241 musical events during my senior year. Like many before me, WUD Music got me hooked on the thrill of connecting others through shared cultural experiences.
Development was an obvious next step post-graduation, because, according to a close mentor, “it is where all the jobs in the arts are”. I surely was not compensated as well as my peers who made their way west to Silicon Valley, but years spent programming did not go to waste. My grasp of the underlying principles of computer systems proved to be invaluable as database manager, where I was tasked with proving insights into our donors. From time to time, I wonder how I got here and why I am not addressing the issues of today’s world through science, technology, engineering, or math. I have yet to meet another arts administrator who also majored in computer sciences. Whenever I am sitting in the audience waiting for the curtain to rise, I am reminded that I am in fact working for a better tomorrow and am exactly where I need to be.