Student Spotlight: Ava Valentino C’20

Ava Valentino C’21

What attracted you to Drew?

It was definitely the opportunity to study archaeology and anthropology.  Drew offered many interesting classes in these subjects.  I also loved the proximity to New York City, that Drew was a small university, and that it was close to home.

What draws you to your majors/minors?

My interest in Archeology started when I was a child.  I was in 5th or 6th grade when I first learned about ancient Mesopotamia and Roman history.  I loved it and continued to nurture that passion. Anthropology taps into my interest in people. I want to make a difference in the field and also contribute to the ancient archaeological record.  Music has always been a part of my life. It is escapism for me; I get lost in the moment when I perform. I especially love playing Chopin’s Etudes. Lastly Italian is linked to my heritage.  I grew up hearing it in my home, along with other languages like Spanish and Portuguese.  I also think it goes well with the field of archaeology.

Do you work on or off campus?

I give vocal and piano lessons at a music studio Absolute Music.

Have you done any internships?

I was a marketing intern at the Morris Museum in Morristown in the fall of 2019.  I am most interested in doing curatorial work but working in marketing gave me an opportunity to work closely with the Curatorial Director of Live Arts, to try to attract a new audience to their new performance series.

I was very excited to be one of 20 students picked to be part of the first cohort of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new student program called “The Met Collective” that started in January (2020).    It is a program that works closely with the education department on planning for College Night, an annual evening party filled with art-related activities, seminars, entertainment, and fun for college students! We also represent the MET on each of our campuses, becoming MET Collective ambassadors, and act as the college voice for our fellow peers. Unfortunately, our annual event has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis, but the group is still functioning to try and deliver meaningful content through social media during this time where art institutions around the globe are resorting to online activities and offering virtual resources to help continue their missions, even though the physical places are closed. It has been a very enjoyable collaboration thus far, and I look forward to seeing how our new social media direction will play out.

Have you done any short, nyc or LongTRECs or have you studied abroad?

Yes, I studied abroad in Italy in July of 2019 through a Montclair University program called, The Villa of the Antonines” Archeological Field School in Genzano di Roma, Italy (30 minutes outside of Rome.) I worked at an archeological site cleaning artifacts, digging trenches, sifting, etc.  The highlight for me was working on a mosaic in the ground.  I worked closely with a conservator and spoke to him in Italian. I reconstructed certain parts of the mosaic, filling in parts of the image that was missing.

Do you have any mentors at Drew?

My advisor, Professor Maria Masucci, has been a huge help and support during my college endeavors. She has helped me create potential career paths in the anthropology/archaeology field and always assures me that amidst my worried thoughts about life after college, everything will come together. She is always kind and patient when listening to these concerns and stories of my work and life experiences. Professor Masucci and I also share a deep passion for archaeology.

What are some of your favorite memories from your years at Drew?

My favorite memories involve meeting friends.  I met 80% of my friends my first days at Drew in the commuter lounge. Another great memory was being part of the ensemble of the musical Heathers during my first year at Drew.  Originally I was planning to major or minor in theater but with all my other classes I just didn’t have the space.

Fun Fact (s) about you?

I performed in theater from 2nd grade through high school.  In my freshman year in high school I was in the ensemble for the play Once on this Island, in my sophomore year I played Kelsey in High School Musical, Rizzo in Grease my Junior Year, and Rusty in Footloose my Senior year. I was also assistant and student musical director.  I directed the music and worked with the play leads.  I also love to read suspense and mystery novels, and I love horror films – The Conjuring, Insidious, and Nightmare on Elm Street are three of my favorites.

What are your career goals? Dream job?  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I would love to be an Archaeologist and/or Museum Curator by day and a musician by night.  In 5 years I hope to be traveling, still working in a museum working my way up, and possibly grad school.

What advice would you give first-year students?

Follow your heart.  Don’t be timid. If you have an interest in something go for it.  Get involved on campus.  Talk to people.  Do something out of your comfort zone and you’ll learn more about yourself.


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