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Victoria Charette ’07

 

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.”

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