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Arts, Community, & Education Internships

Internships prepare students for work in community arts.

Preparing for Work in Community Arts

In the M.Ed. in Arts, Community, and Education program, students interested in arts-based community work and research get training in essential skills such as researching community needs, writing grant proposals, fundraising, culturally responsive arts administration leadership, and building community support through equity, access and inclusion. One of the most important and exciting courses is a required one-semester, 150-hour internship at a location related to the student’s specialization or learning goals. Internships have taken place in Massachusetts and surrounding states.

Program faculty consider the internship experience to be one of the cornerstones of the program, a critical step for successfully preparing a student for work in the community. Often, it's what takes the student to the next step in their career. Recently, students have completed internships at places such as:

  • Boston Lyric Opera
  • The De Cordova Museum and Sculpture Park
  • Boston Beijing Opera House
  • Boston Boys and Girls Club
  • Mary Baker Eddy Museum
  • ARK (Art Resources for Kids)
  • Artists for Humanity Boston
  • RAW Art Works
  • Boston Children’s Museum
  • Butler Hospital
  • Citi Performing Arts Center
  • Arlington Center for the Arts
  • Emerson College Archives
  • Center on Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, Tufts University
  • City of Cambridge

The internship is accompanied by a weekly group seminar led by Lesley faculty who have expertise in the field. This seminar allows students to share experiences and gain clarity as they reflect on their internship work. At the end of the semester and internship experience, interns have created a portfolio that documents all the work at their internship site.

Student & Alumni Experiences

Christine Armstrong '20

Headshot of Christine Armstrong in fuchsia-colored sweater

Internship at Lesley University

Christine Armstrong’s Arts, Community, and Education internship took place at Lesley, where she worked with the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Justice, and participated in research with her program director on the intersectionality of women of color, identity, and higher education. After graduating from the program, she became an adjunct professor at Lesley, teaching a program course on Equity, Access, and Inclusion through Arts-Based Inquiry.

Her work in community organizations includes being career and education manager at FamilyAid Boston, one of the city’s leading homeless service providers primarily servicing families of color, a former managing director at Transformative Culture Project, a local community arts and youth development organization, and former board member at several community arts organizations.

Christine’s employment and academic history are documentation of collaborative, creative work and an academic life committed to racial, cultural, and artistic equity. Through her scholar-activism and community organizing, Christine is committed to making education more equitable, specifically by elevating the voices and narratives of Black women.

See Christine's LinkedIn profile.

Nadege Tessono '22

Internship at Lesley University

Headshot of Nadege Tessono with blue shirt

Nadege completed her internship with the Lesley Institute for Trauma Sensitivity (LIFTS), which provides certificate courses in trauma and learning to educators seeking a more complex knowledge of the effects of trauma on learning and the cultivation of safe and supportive classrooms. Nadege’s responsibilities centered on providing a creative aesthetic to their work, using her visual skills and expertise as a Visual Artist-in-Residence. Among other things, she created a page on the LIFTS community hub that provided resources and creative healing ideas, interviewed community members who were doing work that furthered the institute's goal and vision, and infused visual art into the semester's activities.

Nadege says, “Being in the Community Arts program provided me a space to learn, explore and connect the dots within my skills and experiences to create programming using visual arts for healing as a tool and resource to aid teachers, educators, school supporters, etc., to support trauma-sensitive environments in schools and community centers in assisting with emotional healing through the arts and creative expression.

Lesley Institute for Trauma Sensitivity seemed like an excellent opportunity to create programs around trauma sensitivity and the integration of the arts. I wanted to know how we can use visual arts prompts to guide participants to explore self-discovery and facilitate understanding of their own trauma experiences. I was able to learn and be mentored by a great team.”

Stephanie McKay '20

Internship at Raw Art Works, Lynn, Massachusetts

Headshot of Stephanie McKay in printed top

Stephanie completed her arts internship at Raw Art Works, an organization centered on art therapy for children in grades 4-12. She is currently employed as an art and performance specialist at the Acera school in Winchester.

In early 2021, she received a Creative Entrepreneur Fellowship from the Arts and Business Council of Boston. She said she plans to use the fellowship to produce new musical work and hone her teaching skills as an arts educator in schools and communities around the world.

In February of 2022, Stephanie had a new song published in a music compilation called Black Lives Generation to Generation that features 21 artists from the United States, Africa, and Caribbean. She wrote the song with her son, in response to his experiences in school, "as a black mother modeling resilience and joy through music. Read about Stephanie's song.

Delia Tharnish '20

Internship with City of Cambridge

Headshot of Delia Tharnish in colorful shirt

Delia reports: "I am currently the program manager for Arlington Center for the Arts, a small arts nonprofit in Arlington, MA. We do a variety of arts programming for the community, including fall, winter and spring classes for kids, teens and adults, vacation arts camps, and public events like Arlington Open Studios. My main focus is supporting classes through database management, developing and refining new programs for teens, and running our camp programs. I’m very fortunate in that I work with another Arts, Community and Education alum, which is just one of the many wonderful connections I gained from the program."

"The Arts, Community and Education program allowed me to focus and develop my skills in ways that empowered me to work effectively in the intersections of schools, government agencies and arts organizations. The connections to the community that the program has developed- from industry leaders as professors and lecturers, to site visits, to showing us how to leverage our professional experiences to create change- have allowed me to find a field that I can continue to learn from and contribute to in meaningful ways."

Devin Ferreira

Devin Ferreira standing holding 2017 emmy award

Performing Arts Director, Mattapan Teen Center

Devin is now a music teacher and performer in Boston. He is the performing arts director at the Mattapan Teen Center, run by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston. In 2016, his song “Unstoppable” was the anthem for the Boston Marathon, and won a New England Emmy award for outstanding musical composition in 2017.

"The community arts program dramatically changed my perception of community arts, culture, and honestly, my view of life in general," Devin said. "Many of my classes brought me to a level of understanding that I had never experienced before. They allowed me to gain perspective on racial inequality, racism, white privilege/guilt, discrimination, economic imbalance and how the arts play a key role in bridging communities and creating cultural understanding."

Advantages

Obviously, students gain invaluable experience just working inside a community-based organization. But they also have a chance to broaden their skills to match organizational needs, work alongside administration and staff, provide direct service, programming, evaluation, and more. How does funding work? How do boards function? How are programs administered on a day-to-day basis? How is community advocacy done or community building? What does outreach entail? Theory is applied to practice, resulting in more prepared students.

Organizations also benefit from the energy, skills, knowledge, and creativity students bring to their internships. In one retirement community, for instance, an intern compiled songs, movies, books, and other materials relevant to the resident population. She says, “I hope to come up with the top 30-50 songs that they grew up singing and dancing to, many of which I’ve never heard.” She will begin a new related job with more of an understanding of the population, and design projects that are more compelling to them.


Challenges

For their many benefits, internships also have challenges. One challenge is aligning goals of the intern with those of the organization. Priscilla Sanville, former director of the program, says, “We find sometimes organizations don’t always know what they want and often they just need more bodies to get work done. The goal from our end is to ask organizations if they have had interns before and what would be the job description for the intern they are wanting for their organization? Then we can match the needs of the interns as well as serve the organization. It's becomes a win-win for both the intern and the organization.”

The other challenge is helping the intern have realistic ideas about what their position will be, and to realize that many kinds of tasks will be embedded in their goals. Program alumna Sarah Besegai's experience of having to pour wine and help with coats is one of those examples. As one site director said at a supervision meeting to one another intern, “I don’t ask my staff to do anything that I have not tried once myself, even if it is answering the telephones or cleaning the toilet because someone did not show up before an event.”

“In our years in doing this work, we are most struck by the amazing students and the diversity of wonderful organization we have had the privilege to be in and to serve,” says Sanville. “The internship definitely has given this program a solid foundation and serves the depth of what the students need to learn. We have had the honor to work with some amazing organizations that have given so much to our students."

For more information, contact:

Maureen Creegan-Quinquis, chair and program director
mcreegan@lesley.edu.


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