Lucy holds a BA (Hons.) in Art History and Curatorship from the Australian National University, Canberra. Lucy works in philanthropy at the Australian National University as Senior Annual Giving Officer.
What did you study and what inspired you to pursue this path?
I came to The Australian National University in 2010 to do the Art History and Curatorship degree; I minored in Sociology, Anthropology, Philosophy and English. I chose ANU because it was the only university that offered the degree as a straight Art History and Curatorship degree in undergraduate, and I’ve always been interested in working in the gallery and art space. I distinctly remember being in a school excursion, going to the Canberra Museum and Gallery and watching this print maker do a print with the class, and we did a tour of the gallery and I remember thinking ‘This is where I want to be. I want to work in an environment like this’.
What is your current occupation?
I am a Senior Annual Giving Officer at the ANU. It’s basically a fundraising position where we do mass appeals or mass campaigns that go out to thousands of ANU Alumni and solicit donations and gifts that go towards the university’s prioritized projects. Much of the time the campaigns relate to student support and scholarships.
What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most?
I was so surprised with how quickly I fell in love with the job. It’s very creative – the stuff I do is very justice-oriented to a point. It’s trying to do the best you can in a university to support students, which I really care about.
Thinking back, what was a highlight of your time at university?
The highlights of my tertiary study were the programs I was able to run and set up at the National Gallery. During Honours year, I undertook an internship with the National Gallery of Australia, working in the Public Programs section. I realised very early on that I wasn’t going to be good as a curator, but I was good at exploring how to get people engaged with a gallery or museum, in a way that goes beyond just coming in, looking at artworks and going home.
Another highlight was when I discovered local practicing artists within Canberra and having the opportunity to visit and meet with them.
I was definitely one of those people who found my tribe when I came to university.
Were there any co-curricular activities you found particularly valuable while at university?
For a time I was active as a general representative in the Student Association, which was really fun. I think if I had lived at a college I might have done more of that. But to be honest, I just worked and studied and did more Canberra things rather than specific ANU things.
How do you think your humanities education has shaped you personally and professionally?
I think the humanities in general leads you to a lot of different ways of thinking. Having the opportunity to constantly question why you think something or why you like or don’t like something, and then having the space to unpack that has been really good for me. I can apply it to work a lot and ask ‘Oh okay, why are we choosing to do this?’ – let’s actually think about why we’re doing this and if it’s still the right choice.
And also in my friendships and personal life, being able to be very self reflective and somewhat self aware. Being able to work on yourself is a skill that I think the humanities has lent to me. It’s about trying to work out how you fit around other people and what ways of thinking align more with who you are.
During high school I always wanted to challenge things, but didn’t really know how. And now that I’m here, I can look back and see that university was definitely a turning point; studying artists who do challenge ideas and being around people who also like challenging the status quo or the ways of thinking.
What career advice would you give to current students or recent graduates?
For current students – just enjoy it. Really embrace it: go to parties, read tons of fun, weird stuff that you won’t have the time for again, and get amongst it – protest! Apply for that thing, just do it. I wish I had applied for more stuff – internships or travel when I was at uni.
For recent graduates – don’t be afraid of being upset with not immediately finding where you’re meant to be. Sometimes it takes people a couple of months, sometimes it takes people a couple of years. I really struggled with it; it brought me immense distress and discomfort. But looking back, it was definitely a period of growth. I guess, it’s okay to be scared and not know where you want to go. When you’re a recent graduate and you don’t know what to do next – that’s okay. It’s easier said than done, so talk to people about it, be an open book with it.
Tell us about a book you read recently that truly captured your attention?
One thing which I think everyone should read is ‘Dark Emu’ by Bruce Pascoe. He’s a historian and an Aboriginal man, and he goes back and unpicks all the misinformation that the English invaders and colonisers [put out] to destroy the idea that Aboriginal people were sophisticated.
I do listen to a podcast which I would love to share, called ‘The Last Podcast On the Left’ – they unpack and go into a lot of creepy stuff. They talk about cults or famous murders or alien/ UFO sightings or conspiracies. Each episode is a different topic and they’re quite funny.
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