Student Spotlight: Francesca Grout C’21

Francesca Grout C’21 

Where were you born and raised?

I was born and raised in the center of Moscow, Russia.

What attracted you to Drew?

The proximity to New York and the small number of students per class. Also, Drew offered the INTO program, which allowed me to delve into the dynamic of American academic institutions with more ease.

Why did you choose Art history as a major?

I applied to Drew as an Art History major, with little understanding of the field. For as long as I can remember I have always gone to museums, exhibitions, theatres, and other types of art-related events. I have had the opportunity to travel quite a bit in my life, and visit many great countries and cities, learn about different cultures and discourses. Art History seemed like a great and somewhat safe place to start.

Have you done any internships?

I did a virtual internship at Alfa Art Gallery in the summer of 2020. I was a curator and was responsible for interviewing artists, working with other interns on choosing the items for the virtual exhibitions, and writing up artist biographies in the gallery’s catalog.

Do you have any mentors at Drew?

In my first two and a half years at Drew, Anna MacLachlan from INTO was an incredible support, but she is no longer employed at Drew. Over my last two years, Yasmin Acosta, Launch Catalyst/Career Counselor has helped me write my resumes and get an idea of what applying for jobs and writing cover letters is like, which I am very grateful for.

Have you studied abroad? Done any short or nycTRECs?

I have done the NYC Semester on Contemporary Art in the fall of 2019. On a weekly basis, we would go to the city to meet with artists, curators, art directors, and writers, discussing the current state of the art world as well as their experiences in it. We also were required to maintain a personal website, on which we blogged about our weekly art NYC art-related adventures. It was a fascinating opportunity that I am so grateful I had the chance to be a part of. I would absolutely recommend it to any student at Drew who loves art and recognizes the city as a masterpiece itself.

Do you speak any other language other than English?

Yes, I grew up bilingual in Russian and English.

What issue in the world means the most to you?

Climate change. I am happy that my science courses taught me about sustainability, although what people are doing, not just at Drew but in the world, is not enough.

What are a few of your favorite memories of Drew?

I truly loved learning at Drew. The professors are incredible and inspiring. My absolute favorite course was Microbiology, taught by Dr. Brianne Barker. Dr. Barker’s entertaining and engaging energy, together with her field, have made my Spring of 2020 a much better experience than it could have been. All summer I contemplated switching my major to biology, to continue to work in that department, however, that meant my senior year would consist of only 300 and 400 level science courses (which would be a very bold but difficult plan), or that I would need to take on another year. Neither of those options worked for me, but to this day I think about that course. Another course, that I will never forget was Early 20th-century Art, taught by Dr. Kim Rhodes. I’m not sure how I ended up in a 300-level course as an international freshman, but despite the terrible struggles I had with the assignments, Professor Rhode’s has a love and interest for art I never experienced before.

In addition to that, I had a really amazing friend group my sophomore year. My freshman year socially was quite miserable, during which I lost faith in finding people who would have similar interests as me, who weren’t narrow-minded and self-centered but my sophomore year I found friends, a group of 10 awesome and fun people, and we would always get together and watch movies and discuss different topics in art, politics, history, and science. We are still friends, however, my junior year had become even more academically intense than the previous one, which unfortunately limited opportunities for gatherings and hangouts.

What advice would you give students who are just starting out that you wish you had when you started?

  1. Don’t rush into friendships, not everybody is going to like you but don’t be afraid of that. Focus on discovering yourself and the opportunities that Drew gives you.
  2. If you are sad, don’t be shy to reach out to the Counseling Center. Mental health is important, and you shouldn’t be suffering through issues alone, it is ok to get help.
  3. Don’t go to parties without a trusted person. Don’t drink out of cups handed to you (pour your own or bring your own). Bad things happen, that’s just the way the world is, and sadly it is still very hard to prove that something awful took place. So, if you’re partying – bring a friend(s) that have your back.
  4. Take different classes. Don’t be afraid of disciplines you have no experience in because the professors at Drew build your knowledge from the ground up. I mean, I’m graduating with 4 minors, and if I could afford to, I would definitely add on more!
  5. Oh, and Riker has separate showers. If you are a hygiene freak and are looking for a more quiet and, in a way, secluded dorm – Riker is the place for you.
  6. Be nice to people, without expecting anything in return. If people are mean to you, remember, that they might be having a bad day or problems that you don’t know about. Reach out when you need help or get yourself a pet (or a bunch of plants). And of course, be kind to yourself. Life will become a bit less harsh.

What are your career goals? Where do you hope to be in 5 years?

I am about to embark on that investigation-focused journey. I had hoped that at some point during my 4 years of studying, it would come to me in an awe-inspiring dream but since I gain interests very quickly, it makes it hard for me to make decisions. I am sure I will be working in the art world, aiming for creative jobs, including photography, videography, entertainment, directing, or curating, unless I decide to revisit microbiology and pursue a graduate degree in the scientific field. There are so many options out there. Some people know right away, and some need a gap year (or longer) between college and their next step, to find their niche. That being said, meanwhile in five years I hope to be on the right path. I’m happy I went to Drew; I gained a lot of knowledge and experiences.

Posted by Yasmin Acosta
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