BY JOY CHOU
Throughout this semester, students enrolled in FA 399, the Creative Arts Living Learning Program returner course, have planned and executed a variety of events for their fellow LLP members and Holmes Hall residents as volunteer experience projects. From making blankets for animals at the Humane Society to creating cards to be sent to hospitalized children, FA 399 students have developed creative ways to use the arts for the benefit of others. While these events have been developed as service projects, the students who plan and execute the events also gain valuable skills and experience to prepare them for their future careers. Producing these projects has given students the opportunity to practice project management strategies, logistics planning, communication, collaboration, outreach and promotion, creative problem solving, and post-program evaluation.
Nyah Marasigan and Mallarie Chavez organized an opportunity for students to showcase and sell their artwork, the Holmes Hall Vendor Market, but met some unexpected obstacles along the way. Initially planned to be outdoors, the Vendor Market had to be relocated due to rainy weather, and they also faced challenges in receiving enough sign-ups. Although Marasigan and Chavez had to improvise from their original plans, their need for problem-solving skills proved to adjust their event for the better. By partnering with the Creative Arts LLP and Holmes Hall Student Success Fest, their vendor market was able to reach a larger audience while enjoying the atmosphere of live music and refreshments provided by the Success Fest.
“At first, it was scary deviating from the original plan, but collaborating with others naturally gave us a larger consumer base and enriched the experience more than we ever could have imagined,” recounts Marasigan. “One of my biggest takeaways from this experience is that it's okay to adjust plans if new opportunities arise because it can work out for the better.”
Crystal Queers (@uky_crystalqueers on Instagram), created by Zeke Ball and Jazmin Rose, aims to ”make LGBTQ+ history and knowledge crystal clear.” Crystal Queers provides both a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as education for better allyship and information for those wanting to explore their identities. At the close of the semester, Ball and Rose evaluated their attendance rates and marketing strategies to determine what types of meetings were most appealing for attendees. Their next goal is increasing the reach of Crystal Queers beyond the LLP and Holmes Hall and across UK’s campus. While discussing his experience with this project, Ball reflected, “People want to learn; they just need the ability and motivation to do so and that’s what my next step is focused on.”
Gavin Milby spearheaded a concert attire clothing drive in partnership with the University of Kentucky’s chapter of the National Association for Music Education (@uknafme on Instagram). Milby recognized that dress clothes are not often accessible or affordable for music students who need it for concerts and worked with NAfME to organize a community-wide clothing drive that would be donated to music students across central Kentucky. Utilizing his network of peers, faculty, and staff in the College of Fine Arts community, Milby and the NAfME outreach team (including Committee Head Mary Meyers, Julianna Boulden, Sam Nagel, and Drew Reynolds), reached out to all performing ensembles to promote the clothing drive, in addition to posting flyers around campus and on social media, and was able to collect around two boxes full of clothes.
“This project taught me how to raise awareness for events and work with others, all of which will come in handy in my future career as an educator. The skills I learned in FA 399 will lead to success in fundraising and big projects with my future music programs,” says Milby.
FA 399 students have also been able to experience professional growth outside of their service projects. Through workshops with Dean Mark Shanda, the UK Career Center, and Alexandra Burns, the Administrative Coordinator for the Department of Arts Administration, students in FA 399 have enhanced their skills in interviewing, job- and internship-searching, and resume-building. In addition, students had the opportunity to hear from guest speakers in a variety of different creative professions. These professionals discussed what education and background experience led them to their current position and shared advice for students pursuing a similar career, allowing students to gain insight into that career field before they graduate.
With the FA 399 course, the Creative Arts LLP has expanded beyond being solely dedicated to enhancing the freshman experience at UK and has cultivated a “Second Year Experience” that deepens the connections to campus and CFA that are made during students’ first year. The number of returning LLP students continues to grow each year, with the 2021-2022 cohort being the largest yet.