Interview with Public Fellow Kirsten Jaqua on Interning with the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor (EVC)

Interview with Public Fellow Kirsten Jaqua on Interning with the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor (EVC)

February 2, 2021

Kirsten Jaqua is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Classics, studying ancient Greek tragedy. Her research concerns women’s social bonds and the significance of female-female relationships portrayed in male-written and -performed dramas. As an IHC Public Humanities Graduate Fellow, Jaqua interned with the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor (EVC) at UC Santa Barbara.

You recently completed an internship in the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor (EVC). What was the central issue of focus for the internship?

My internship focused on enhancing and increasing student engagement with Humanities and Fine Arts (HFA) programs: courses, departments, and events. I aimed to create a project that would primarily engage incoming students and especially students with an undeclared major. As I developed the project, I also shifted my focus to include outreach to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) focused students. I wanted to encourage them to complement their STEM education with the valuable perspectives developed in the Humanities and Fine Arts. My goal was to demonstrate to incoming and STEM major students that the Humanities are not only indispensable for any career path but directly valuable to students’ lives now, since the Humanities address the most compelling challenges facing the world today.

What projects did you complete during your internship?

For my internship, I developed a resource document that covered seven key issues the Humanities address. These issues were: Experiences of Black, Indigenous, and other Peoples of Color, Gender Equality, LGBTQ Rights, Immigration, Family and Parenting with a Career, Environmental Humanities, and Coping with the Pandemic. For each of these topics, I compiled a list of faculty members who conduct research on them, a list of pertinent courses, and a list of events, talks, and other resources offered by HFA concerning these issues. The document was divided into two sections. The first section had a blurb for each department, highlighting which areas the department specialized in (for example, English has a strong focus on Environmental Humanities) and faculty or courses offered that stood out in addressing these issues through research and study. The second section was arranged by issue. It listed what faculty, courses, events, and resources were offered for each of the seven issues.

In developing this resource document, I consulted with multiple University organizations, including CITRAL and Career Services, to design it in a way that would interest students, provide information they need, and be easy to navigate. I completed my internship by compiling a list of ideas for how my project might be continued by future interns. It is my hope that the EVC’s Office will be able to make this resource widely available and that future interns will continue to update the resource with new and compelling issues and what research and courses in the Humanities address them.

What insights did you gain about academic administration through this experience?

Naturally, my experience was somewhat unique, since my internship was conducted in a fully remote setting. Within this setting, I learned efficient modes of communication and effective ways to align my calendar with those of others to set up remote meetings. My work helped me develop a greater understanding of how the various organizations within the University communicate and work together on projects like mine (promoting the visibility and value of HFA programs). I also became more efficient at working within tight time constraints to communicate with an administration overburdened with the shift to online education and remote work.

My work allowed me to explore two areas of administrative policy as well. First, I explored degree requirements. In pitching the HFA courses, I examined the requirements students must fulfill in their degrees, in both STEM and Humanities, how Humanities courses can fill requirements in each, and what program learning outcomes these requirements provide for students. Second, I had to review what administrative checkpoints my resource document needed to pass before it could be distributed within the University. As we reached the end of the project and considered where my resource document might be distributed, I discussed with my supervisor which members of the administration (e.g. the Executive Vice Chancellor and the Dean of HFA) I needed to contact and meet with first. With their input, I made several valuable late additions and phrasing changes to ensure that the document did justice to departments it concerned and accurately represented the HFA Division as a whole.

What skills did you bring to this internship as a graduate student in Classics?

Classics is in its own right a uniquely interdisciplinary field. The research done within my field spans linguistics, architecture, archaeology, cultural anthropology, and drama, to name just a few areas. I felt that my background in Classics gave me broad experience to draw upon as I wrote about the value of the Humanities across the many disciplines within the Division of HFA. My department in its capacity as a broad field also works closely with colleagues in other departments, including Political Science, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Theater and Dance, and History, among others. These connections enabled me to identify or reach out and ask about some of the work Humanities departments do to research and address the key contemporary issues on which my document focused.

How might this experience inform your future graduate studies or career trajectory?

The work I did in this internship opened my eyes to a number of career paths I could pursue as I wrap up my graduate studies. As a graduate student, I have always loved and enjoyed in particular my teaching and all work that involved outreach to undergraduate students. My background in Classics likewise made me a good advocate for the Humanities. The combination of my knowledge from my degree and my passion for outreach and student support fit well into a Special Projects job in administration. My supervisor, Elizabeth (ZouZou) Chapman, also took time during my internship to discuss with me how I could supplement my degree with managerial skills (such as a certificate in Project Management) and open up further possibilities in administrative work after my PhD.

Following my internship, I feel overall that I have a better sense of my options both academic and non-academic in the job market. I have also been able to develop a stronger network of helpful and supportive people I can connect with as I continue to explore plans for my career.

Click here to learn more about the IHC Public Humanities Graduate Fellows Program.