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Featured Alumni – Fall 2016

Victoria Charette ’07

Victoria Charette ’07 (Lincoln School) graduated from Yale University in 2011 with a B.A. in the History of Art. In 2014 she earned an M.A. in Public Humanities with a concentration in Museum Studies from Brown University. “As a child I spent many weekends at the RISD Museum, getting lost in the galleries for hours on end, watching, looking, and learning until my feet hurt,” she says. “My love of museums most definitely stems from those weekends I whiled away with sketchbook in tow.”

Victoria currently works as the Curatorial Department Coordinator at The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, where she serves as executive assistant to the chief curator, assists the director of exhibitions in planning, managing, and budgeting for the exhibition program, and acts as a liaison between the curatorial department and the rest of the museum. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to work in a field she has been passionate about for many years. “When I was in college, there was nothing more exciting than learning about the world and its history through the visual imagery generated in every age by people responding to their society,” she says. “These objects, from cave paintings to contemporary art installations, which have survived them and will survive us, too, allow us to peer into the daily lives of lost civilizations otherwise unknown.”

For Victoria, the best thing about college was meeting and being surrounded by individuals as intellectually curious and passionate about their fields of study as she was. “I made lifetime friends who now work in many disparate fields, from radio to law to finance to medicine, all of whom inspired me to pursue my passion for art and museums,” she says. “During late night conversations, we debated and discussed many things that interested us, and I was able to apply methods my peers used in other fields to my own studies as an art historian. I have learned in college, graduate school, and now in my profession how important it is to listen to others, borrow best practices, and work collaboratively towards shared goals.”

In addition to her studies at Yale, Victoria worked as a gallery guide at the Yale University Art Gallery and a research assistant at the Yale Center for British Art. She spent a summer in London studying British visual and literary culture. Upon graduation she was awarded distinction in the major and the Mark Deitz Memorial Prize for Original Research in Art History for her senior essay titled “Collecting, Combining, and Displaying the Family in the Photographs of Diane Arbus.”

During all the years that Victoria spent as a Crusader, she credits her father as the most important influence in her life. “My father had not completed eighth grade, and he knew he wasn’t able to guide me on the path to college. But he was tireless in making sure I attended every program The College Crusade had to offer, from those afterschool programs in elementary school to college visits in high school. Because of him, I was surrounded by a culture of college preparedness and readiness despite all of the obstacles in my way coming from a persistently poor and relatively uneducated family. I am forever grateful for the amazing staff and programs The College Crusade provided me from ages 7 through 17.”

Victoria has never lost her sense of gratitude for the doors that have been opened for her. Back in 2003, as a public middle school student in Pawtucket, she was selected as the first Lincoln Scholar to receive a full, four-year scholarship to Lincoln School in Providence and graduated at the top of her class there. After finishing her degree at Yale, she returned to Pawtucket and served as an AmeriCorps member for the National College Advising Corps, based at the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University. “I was a College Guide at Tolman Senior High School from August 2011 to June 2012,” she says, “working as a counselor to raise the number of low-income, first-generation college-bound youth who attend college. As a first-generation college student from Pawtucket myself, it was important to me to give back for all the opportunities I had been given.”

Then, during her graduate studies at Brown, Victoria traveled a full circle back to her early days as a beginning art lover at the RISD Museum. “I worked as a Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant in the education department at the RISD Museum,” she says. “I designed, researched, and led K-12 programs for Providence area schools and also was a gallery guide in the Art Shots program, where I led original, thematic tours of the collection for the general public.” After completing her graduate degree, Victoria also worked for a year as Creative Marketing Specialist for Lincoln School.

In her free time, Victoria likes to read, run, visit museums and other cultural institutions, and explore the outdoors near and far. She also continues to volunteer her services as a mentor to high school seniors working on their college applications and financial aid planning.

Hear her amazing advice to high school Crusaders who are just starting college: “It’s going to be a culture shock to be surrounded by so many students from different backgrounds than you. It’s going to be difficult to find others who share the circumstances of your upbringing. It’s going to be hard to get past it, but you will. No matter how difficult the work, no matter how poorly you feel you might be doing, keep going. Take advantage of the resources available to you. Attend office hours. Take advantage of your advisor. You will likely need to work much harder than your peers who, by and large, grew up knowing and expecting that they would go to college, who may have been attending their parents’ college reunions since they were toddlers. It may feel unfair, but you need to persist, you need to strive, you need to overcome, and you will be all the better for it. Pursue what you love. It will all fall into place eventually. Trust your gut, trust in everything you’ve done to get where you are, trust that your family, friends, peers, and professors all want to see you succeed, but most of all, trust yourself. Even when things feel impossible, remember that you are intelligent, capable, resourceful, but also worthy and deserving of every opportunity you receive. And lastly, remember where you came from, give back to the community that shaped you, and be grateful.”

 

Omar Valerio ’11

omar-valerio2Omar Valerio ’11 (LaSalle Academy) graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2015, earning a B.S. in Sociology with a concentration in Criminology and Criminal Justice and minors in Writing and English. “Sociology intrigued me,” he says. “Simply by living in this world, I felt an obligation to further understand the social machinations that I am a part of daily. I felt that if I became educated about what is around me, I would in turn be learning about myself.”

Currently Omar is working toward his M.Ed. in Urban Teaching from Providence College and expects to earn his degree in 2017. His career aspirations have changed since he completed his undergraduate degree. Over time he began to understand that, instead of policing his community, his calling was to build lasting relationships with young people by becoming an educator. “As a Latino man who was born and raised in Providence, I am passionate about providing a high-quality education to urban youth,” he says. “Constantly reflecting and scrutinizing my craft, as well as learning from both my mistakes and successes, my goal is to be the best educator I can be by maintaining the mindset that I am a student first. I attend Providence College so that I can continue to learn the specialized teaching methods needed to help close the achievement gaps in the diverse and urban communities that I grew up in.”

Omar is employed as a School Learning Specialist at the MET High School in Providence, where he works individually with students to maximize their learning. He is also an instructor for The College Crusade’s Saturday Cru Club program and Ways to A’s program for newly enrolled Crusaders. “With the MET High School and my work with The College Crusade,” he says, “I can describe my experiences of working with scholars in one word: connected. When I walk into the classroom, I have an overwhelming feeling of belonging. I look around and there are boys wearing the same sneakers I wear, and girls listening to the same music I listen to. We use the same slang and even share the same interest in sports. I hear the same loud cars driving by on Friday nights, and I go to the same food trucks parked all along the side of Broad Street. Like all of the things my students and I have in common, we often share similar stories of struggle,” he continues. “These struggles are things that have shaped my life and the lives of my students. Knowing we are so alike, my students are comfortable opening up to me about their issues. They trust me and know that I want the best for them. Reflecting on this classroom atmosphere, I believe that because my students and I have an open line of communication and they know I care about them, they feel that their thoughts and feelings have real value. It is this attitude that promotes learning and a trust system that encourages positive social interactions and self-motivation. The only way to grow is if you feed the soul,” he adds.

Omar is thankful for the time he spent as a Crusader and for the Crusade scholarship that helped to support his undergraduate career. “I cannot say enough great things about The College Crusade,” he says. “What I valued the most was seeing other students who came from communities like mine trying to create a better future for themselves. Being surrounded with students who were college bound, in programs like the Crusade Adventure & Academic Program, motivated me to push forward for myself and my community.”

In his free time, Omar loves to work out. He finds that the activity keeps him mentally and physically sharp but is also good exercise for his attitude. “Other than the obvious plus of being in shape, it helps to remind us that with smart-hard work, we can achieve our goals,” he says. “Like life, working out requires a solid plan. If you go in blind you will not achieve the same level of success as if you went in with a purpose.”

Omar had a great experience in college and passes along a lot of encouraging advice for Crusaders who are just starting out. “College will be an awesome time in your life,” he says. “For many of you it will be the first time you will be away from your parents. What I love about college is that it gives you the space to explore what it means to be you, while still providing the safety net of having professional support. Most of my learning came outside of the classroom and oftentimes happened when I met new people.”

His advice:

  • Meet new friends.
  • Build strong financial credit.
  • Enjoy it. If you are not enjoying it, reflect on what is holding you back.
  • Get involved. This will help you grow, as well as building your resume.
  • Step out of your comfort zone and try new things! The only way to grow is if you feed the soul.

And these last words: “Everything is easy. What seemed hard was something simply not mastered. Remember that at one point tying your shoes was impossible, but with lots of practice, guidance, and patience the impossible became second nature.”

 

Featured Alumni