Feature Stories 2023: Kayla Rausch '23: Practical experiences

Senior art history major Kayla Rausch '23 pictured in the Claire T. Carney Library
Feature Stories 2023: Kayla Rausch '23: Practical experiences
Kayla Rausch '23: Practical experiences

Senior art history major grows personally and professionally through research

Why UMassD?

What brought you to UMass Dartmouth?

"I was interested in pursuing my passion for art history at an in-state public university. I had a teacher in high school who attended this school for an art program and spoke highly of his experience. I took a few tours here prior to applying and was attracted to the intriguing nature of this small campus that seemed to foster close bonds between students. The sense of community is what I was looking for the most in a college experience."

What’s your favorite thing about UMassD?

"The staff throughout campus is very friendly and helpful. I have had the great pleasure to work closely with some of my professors, who have offered me great opportunities that helped me to develop a professional skillset necessary for higher learning and the workforce."

Studying art history

Having made at least the Dean's list (minimum 3.2 GPA) all seven semesters she's been enrolled at UMass Dartmouth, and the Chancellor's list (minimum 3.8 GPA) six of those semesters while also interning and conducting research in her field, Kayla Rausch has excelled in the college of visual & performing arts' art history curriculum.

Why did you choose your major?

"I have had an interest in art history and museum studies since high school, and college was the first time I was able to take courses regarding the subject. While I immensely enjoyed taking studio art classes, I found myself more interested in the methodological and critical analysis approaches to art as opposed to creating my own works of art. This major is of utmost value in aiding my goal of working in a museum or gallery setting."

Why should someone study art history?

"Art history allows you to closely examine history through the cultural context of historical artifacts. By studying the works of art and textual evidence left behind by past societies, we begin to develop a better understanding of the nature of lived experiences and the human existence at large. Art history opens the door to job opportunities in a vast array of settings, such as museums, galleries, historic houses, libraries, or archives. When you take courses in other fields, it is likely that you will encounter aspects of art history integrated into the material."

Do you have a favorite class?

"My favorite class was Special Topics in Art History: Curating Public Art. This course was particularly pertinent to my concentration and it afforded me practical, hands-on experience in a gallery environment, where I was able to install works of art and discuss them with my class and attendees of the exhibitions."


Rausch was awarded the prestigious New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks! Student Fellowship, through which she developed her research project entitled, Architecture and Morality in Antebellum New Bedford.

How did your research add to your academic experience?

"As a person, I truly matured from the experience by involving myself in a project more complex and significant than any other previously undertaken. Especially rewarding was learning about the importance of primary research through fieldwork and being able to speak with experts equipped with firsthand experience."

Did this help prepare you for your post-graduation plans?

"The practical experience of this research project was a crucial step towards securing a higher chance of acceptance into graduate school, where I plan to further pursue my studies in art history and museum studies."

What did you learn about yourself during this project?

"Research projects like these feel daunting at first because it feels as though you are tasked with creating an earth-shattering end product. In reality, if you take it slow and piece by piece, the overwhelming sense of initial panic and fear begins to diminish. I learned a lot about the research process and my own potential through the completion of this project."

Looking back

How do you know UMassD was the right choice for you?

"Attending UMassD allowed me to become more confident and self-reliant in balancing work management and free time. I made many friends and I enjoyed my professors. The school equipped me with the knowledge and resources that will complement my future plans for a career in a museum."

What advice would you give to a freshman at UMassD?

"Don’t be afraid to try something new, even if it seems entirely outside of your comfort zone. These are the experiences that prepare you the most for real-world challenges and distinguish you from your peers, making you a more competitive and well-rounded applicant for graduate school or for a desired career path."

Looking ahead

How prepared do you feel to enter the next phase of your life?

"I hope to attend graduate school for art history and museum studies. Once I complete the program, I plan on working in a field relating to art collections, particularly a museum, as a curator. UMass Dartmouth has prepared me well for entering the next phase of my life. I feel ready to begin graduate school, which I believe will ultimately put me on the right track toward my intended career path."