When she applied for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Summer Mentoring Program for College Juniors in New York City, she was “looking for ways to learn more about museum studies and the role large museums play in urban settings,” but what she got was an “amazing and once in a lifetime experience,” Alexandra Sizemore-Smale, Cherokee, said.
The 21-year-old University of California Berkeley student said the application process was competitive, “but I am so happy I applied and feel very fortunate that I was accepted.”
She was one of about 40 students chosen for the program this past summer, said Donna Williams, chief audience development officer for the Met. She said the mentoring program was started seven years ago and focuses specifically on underrepresented students.
Sizemore-Smale said the best part about her summer experience with the Met was getting to know the other interns.
“While we were all from different backgrounds, schools and places I feel that we all bonded over a common passion for the arts community,” she said. “I loved working with such diverse and talented peers.”
After she completes her studies in art history and near eastern studies she said she hopes to “continue working with the arts in a way that facilitates education and community engagement” and interning at the Met will help her get there by offering practical experience.
Part of that experience was an intern exchange with the National Museum of the American Indian, also in New York City. Interns from each museum visited the other and learned about each venue. This summer was the first time such an exchange between the two museums took place.
“The shared experience of both institutions will impact their lives,” Williams said. “They get to learn first hand how people became successful in the field.”
Sizemore-Smale has worked for a number of other cultural institutions other than the Met. She is currently the chair of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Student Committee, which facilitates interactions between the archive and students at UC Berkeley.
She also has some archaeological experience, while in Greece she did some excavating at the pan-Hellenic sanctuary of Zeus. Her most recent project is of the archival and curatorial type and is for the Berkeley Student Cooperative (BSC). It involves an exhibit on BSC history and will show at the UC Berkeley Bancroft Library in the fall of 2013.
What advice does Sizemore-Smale have for other Native American students? She says to always be looking for opportunities and ways to get involved. “While applying for jobs or volunteer positions can often seem intimidating or overwhelming it never hurts to try,” she said. “Putting yourself out there is the best thing you can do. There are also many great opportunities available specifically for Native and minority students such as the Mentoring Program for College Juniors at the Met. I encourage everyone to seek such opportunities out; they’re amazing ways to learn, grow, and better society.”