Graduate Assistantship Gone Awesome

It only seems like three semesters ago that I started at IU (because it was), and now I’ve up and graduated with a Master of Arts in Arts Administration. But I decided to stick around one more semester, finishing up one of my three practicum projects, working as a research assistant for SPEA professor Jen Shang, and keeping my part-time assistantship at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater (BCT) in town. I’m really glad I did this. Not only does it let me enjoy living in Bloomington homework-free and search for my next job without all the pressures of the final semester, but I got to finish up a huge project that I’ve been working on for over year— namely, the Bloomington Pride Film Festival.

In my first semester I worked on Pride as a 50-hour practicum project, helping with marketing and grant reporting. My passion for the festival was hard to ignore, and since it’s managed by the BCT, my actual assistantship there became mostly about Pride as the months wore on. The festival is a four-day film-focused celebration of the LGBT community in Bloomington and southern Indiana, and I can tell you it’s a blast whether you consider yourself LGBT, an ally, or just interested in new film.

The festival happens in late January but planning takes all year, and one of my duties was to coordinate the process of screening and selecting the films. After searching through hundreds of potential films, volunteers on the steering committee and IU students watched and rated over 60 films then took an entire night to narrow the list down to 25 films, which were screened at the theater during the festival, and on campus and in community spaces in the weeks prior. Through all of this work, I got to see just what goes into creating an artistic, community-focused event. I walked away from it knowing that I helped to make an impact on the community of Bloomington, an impact that will hopefully be felt for a while even though this year’s festival has passed.

My assistantship has been one of my favorite parts of this program. I’ll be the first to admit that I have an unnatural fondness for classes and writing papers. But it really puts it all in perspective when you have to apply what you’ve learned, and learn new things you can’t get from a lecture, to see how your own actions and words shape the community around you. I mean, that’s kind of why I came to grad school anyway, right?

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