I recently re-discovered David Brooks’ “Politics & Policy” recorded lecture when he visited UW-Madison this past fall. I had hoped to attend in person, following my pseudo-tradition of seeing him in my undergraduate experience at Denison University where I majored in Music, with a concentration in Music History. Irrespective of Brook’s own politics and views on policy, his talks historically were, for me, profound and thought-provoking in relation to our common humanity. His lecture this time around did not disappoint. His simply human and relevant questions about life brought one particular question to the surface in reflecting on my journey through the arts and culture sector and to the Bolz Center—what’s a question that you’ve asked yourself that hasn’t gone away?
In the daily (and busy!) routine of graduate school, I feel that it’s not just one question I ask myself that doesn’t go away. I often feel overflowing and insatiably curious with questions to which I don’t have an answer, knowing full well that the questions I/we ask will not go away, at least not immediately. But isn’t that part of the point? What a delightful thought that is on the journey of learning.
One of my key responses when people ask me about the Bolz Center’s Master of Arts-Business: Arts and Creative Enterprise Leadership Program is this: “I get a year to explore, contemplate, reframe or reinforce what I know, question what I don’t know, and constantly ask why and how.” By all accounts, I consider that chance to be a gift, bolstered by the unwavering support and mentorship of Bolz professors, faculty, and leadership.
Out in the larger Madison community, I also get to participate in the why’s and how’s and learning process in meaningful ways. I have the privilege of working in the Development Department at the Madison Children’s Museum through my Applied Learning Placement this year. Working on grants, I help MCM tell its story in being a community asset for future generations’ capacity for creativity, resiliency, empathy, and growth. Every day, very young minds and bodies are being positively influenced through hands-on play and the connections they make to each other in a safe and beautiful environment.
The unique Bolz opportunity to participate and learn in the classroom and out in the local arts ecosystem was one of primary reason I chose to go back to school after 10 years in the field. My previous job as a professional grant writer, development consultant, and creative placemaking implementor in a shared arts management LLC in Michigan set an invaluable foundation for my career and opened lifechanging doors. Going from a full-time, multi-dimensional job to a full-time, multi-dimensional student certainly has had its interesting transitions. It’s amazing how the passage of time, long or short, can force the catapult of one’s life to new heights.
As spring semester kicks into high gear and the train towards graduation is full steam ahead, I try as hard as I can to be in the moment and not take any moment for granted. I don’t know where life will exactly lead after May 2022. Ten years ago, that “not knowing” quotient would have terrified me. Today, I remain optimistic about my career aspirations and more open to the hope that the divergent paths can all come true at some point – like consulting and starting my own arts consultancy firm; working for the NEA in shaping grant guidelines and policy; working at a foundation as a program officer; continue writing grants and telling stories. In the grand scheme of my time in Madison so far, one thing is clear—I have many questions that won’t go away. And that’s just fine with me.