Kate Thornhill ’10: Alumni spotlight

Kate talks about the career benefits of pursuing her BA in art history & BFA in Photography at the CVPA.

Library of books on a cell phone
(photo courtesy of Pixaby, photographer Gerd Altmann)

After initially pursuing her education at an expensive private art school, Kate Thornhill ‘1o decided to transfer to UMassD where she double majored in Art History and Photography at the College of Visual & Performing Arts (CVPA). “While undecided about what kind of career I wanted, I took many courses in art education, women, gender, and sexuality studies, photography, and art history with professors, including Anna Dempsey, Victoria Crayhon, Juli Parker, and Kathy Miraglia,” says Kate who earned her BA and BFA from UMassD.

A rich academic experience

During her time as a work-study student at the CVPA’s Visual & Media Literacy Hub, she realized with the mentorship of Allison Cywin, where she could apply all of her course knowledge and experiences into a career. “I gained practical hands-on job skills as an introduction to digital librarianship with a focus on visual and media arts,” she says. “I was able to get exposure to building digital archives, digitization services, researching artworks, assisting professors with image research for book publications, and how to build academic relationships.”

The experience combined with coursework helped her locate the desire to work with photographs and digital images in research and education settings. “Working for the Hub helped me understand that librarians have a major place in supporting faculty and students with their creative research and instructional endeavors. Librarians advocate and foster digital, visual, data, and information literacy, which are incredibly core for anyone working in any academic discipline and anyone who wants to be an engaged digital citizen.”

A rewarding career

The New Bedford, MA native is currently a digital scholarship librarian at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon where she specializes in working with university faculty to transform their research into new types of multi-modal digital scholarship projects. She also teaches digital literacy to college students and is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Denver where she teaches library and information science online to graduate students. “These digital media and technology intense research projects can take shape through publicly available digital maps, data visualizations, digital exhibits, and digital timelines,” Kate says.

She also says she has had the opportunity to work with amazing people on different projects and programming during her career. “Getting to work on thought-provoking digital scholarship projects that can reach thousands of people at no cost makes me feel like my job benefits the greater public good. I love being able to make information available to faculty and students and teach them how to enhance their scholarship.” When asked what she feels has helped her along her career path, Kate says all of the UMassD professors and the knowledge they shared helped shape her into a critical thinker and life-long learner. ”Definitely learning how to be a critical thinker and learning how to give constructive criticism was a major impact to prepare me for career success.”

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