Graduate Spotlight – Natalie Gentry

Graduate Spotlight – Natalie Gentry

Natalie is our most recent graduate! She completed her master’s program with a customized degree in both arts, cultural management and museum studies. Throughout her time with us, Natalie fell in love with the people, opportunities, and knowledge that make our program so special. The most integral aspect of the program is our people. Our amazing educators make this program what it is and Natalie agrees that this is a pretty outstanding group. She says, “All of the staff are so kind and enthusiastic about the content! I loved learning from them because they loved what they were teaching.”

One of her favorite courses was MUSM 888 Curatorial Practices. Natalie remarks, “it was so cool to get inside access to the various collections on campus. Although our show had to swiftly change to be virtual due to COVID, getting to work so closely with collections staff and do in-depth research on the objects we pulled to exhibit was so intriguing.”

Natalie also enjoyed the hands-on learning opportunities with our museum partners on campus as it made the classroom content much more tangible. During her time in the program, Natalie served as the graduate assistant at the Broad Art Museum, one of our campus partners, where she worked on the Open Call program.

Among the many great memories from her assistantship at the Broad, Natalie says the most special moment was working with students from the Refugee Development Center. The students drew designs which Bridgeen from then turned into scarves and ties which were sold to support the Refugee Development Center. “Seeing the students receive the completed scarves with their own designs on them was incredible.”

Natalie (far left) with students from the Refugee Development Center

Natalie is enthusiastic about the potential of museum education to teach critical thinking and social engagement skills, culminating in a more empathetic world. This belief and a passion for education and community outreach inspired her along with a few friends to launch their own nonprofit called Queerly Collective. Queerly Collective focuses on amplifying the voices of LGBTQ+ artists. So far the organization has featured over 50 artists on their Instagram and have hosted 2 virtual exhibits on their website.

As for advice to younger students, Natalie stresses the importance of not letting fear hold you back. “I come from a small town in Northern Michigan, so going to undergrad was a huge shift for me and everything was scary. I let my fears hold me back and didn’t take as many opportunities as I maybe should have. When I came to the MA program at MSU I decided I was going to stop saying no just because I wasn’t sure if I could do something. I started taking every step I could towards breaking out of my shell, and I am a better student, scholar, and person for it.”

Natalie loves crocheting, playing Animal Crossing, upcycling thrift store items, taking care of her pets, and all things Star Trek.

Congratulations, Natalie!