In the Loop
Alumni News : Jan 23, 2017

UF Museum Studies alumna reflects on her professional journey and how UF helped her succeed

By Asia McKenzie

UF alumna Rachelle Giard graduated from the College of the Arts in with a M.A. in  museum studies in 2014. Giard reflects on her time at UF as a time of great opportunity.

“With two great museums on campus, an amazing gallery system, and a semester devoted to an external internship, you’d be hard pressed not to find ample opportunities to prepare yourself for a career in museums in UF’s Museum Studies Graduate Program,” Giard said.

During her graduate studies, Giard worked at the College of Arts as a development graduate assistant for two years.

Giard said her career path could have taken a turn if it was not for the former Museum Studies Director Glenn Willlumson’s professional guidance.

“Of course, his courses were interesting and deeply informative, but his keen guidance was what I depended on most,” she said. “In fact, was Dr. Willumson who first noted that I might have an aptitude for development work as opposed to exhibitions which I had begun my studies focused on. Naturally, he was right and this insight on his part led me to the work I now do.”

Working in development has also gave Giard an empathic view of donating and how important it can be for organizations such as UF. 

“I work in development myself, so I understand how absolutely vital it is to have a base of donors who will support the important work that universities like UF do for their students, as is true for any organization working in the arts,” she said.

She believes that even small donations from young alumni can make a difference.

“For me the most important thing to note for young alumni, especially those just starting out in their careers, is that a gift doesn’t need to strain one’s current giving capacity to be meaningful,” she said. “It can often feel like $10, $25, $50 a year won’t make much of a difference, but it truly adds up!”

Since graduating, Giard has worked in development at Salzburg Global Seminar and now at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Giard said that dedication is key to any form of success.

“I think you have to be deeply committed to the cause you wish to serve to be effective,” she said.“I believe to my core that museums serve an essential, irreplaceable role in society. This belief carries over to my day-to-day work and all my interactions with donors and visitors. So much else can be taught, but you can’t fake that.”