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By: Lacie Kunselman, MDS Class of 2018//MDS Musings Blog

Abby at the Louvre during her 4-week study in France at St. Denis.

Abby Smith is a Mount de Sales senior who participates in the Diploma Endorsement program (DEP), which aims to teach students real-world leadership skills and provide them with many opportunities to explore their passions.  Today, Abby shares some of her experiences in the program.

What is your concentration area, and how have you incorporated your concentration into your coursework?

My concentration area is in Art History. When I first started Diploma Endorsement, though, it was Film, and then it was English. Then, I took AP Art History and loved the class. Everything clicked with me, and I realized my true passion was learning about art, not creating it. I took art history my sophomore year, took studio art classes freshman and junior year, and am taking an independent study in art history this year.

What do you do in your independent study, and how will this prepare you for your future outside of Mount de Sales?

My independent study is research-based. I write papers on the transitions between art historical periods. The course is based on intro-level college courses so I will have an edge when I begin college courses next year.

What work did you do outside of school, and how did the DEP make that possible?

I thought that if I was going to study art history, I needed to become more familiar with the world of museums. I interned through the school at the Museum of Arts and Sciences during Easter Semester. I worked with the education director and enjoyed it so much I volunteered weekly during the summer. I also went to a conference with the museum staff at the Georgia Museum of Art at UGA to learn about educational programs in museums.

Describe your work at the museum.

I assisted the education director, so I focused on helping kids learn. I helped design crafts for summer camps and schools and planned activities for the general public to make the exhibits more interactive.  I also lead tours of the museum. It was really neat to show the kids and parents how our interactive exhibits worked and to see their eyes light up.

What did you learn at the conference?

I learned a lot about different outreach programs. Museums always have trouble getting people in the doors for the first time, but once people come they usually become lifetime supporters. We learned how other museums engage their communities.

Art by Abby Smith

What was your favorite experience at the museum?

One time I helped with a school group and a little kid asked if I could write down when the museum was open. He wanted to show the hours to his mom so he could come back. It was a small moment, but it meant a lot to me to see a kid falling in love with the museum like I had at his age when my grandma brought me to the museum.

What are your plans for the rest of your senior year and the DEP?

For my senior year, I will continue to volunteer at the museum and make the most of my current art history class. I also plan on creating a capstone project that integrates my love of the history of art with my love of creating art.

How has your participation in the DEP affected your plans for your education and career?

I would have never known how much I love working in museums if it wasn’t for my internship. I know now exactly what I want to be when I grow up, which is a question I used to not know the answer to.

Why should students consider participating in the DEP?

Along with learning about art history, this program has taught me why I love art history in the first place. If someone wants to get a glimpse of their future in a certain field, this is the program. I saved myself from a lot of major changes in college. Diploma Endorsement lets you get a jump start on your passions. Why wouldn’t someone do it?

Responses have been edited for clarity and length. Click for more Musings Blog Articles.

Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic school located in Macon, GA, which is sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1876, MDS has served  a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.