Make The Connection

January 5, 2017 | By Ohio Wesleyan University

Rachel Spotts ’17 completed three internships in Texas, including working at Bike Texas, where her work included lobbying state lawmakers. A university-funded grant helped support her experiences. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Spotts)

'Nothing Short of Amazing'

Austin Internships Help Senior Decide Post-Graduation Path

Name: Rachel Spotts ’17
Major(s): Studio Art and Chemistry
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Experience: Spotts completed internships in Austin, Texas, at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sculptor Charles Umlauf; the Harry Ransom Center, an archive, library, and museum; and Bike Texas, a nonprofit organization promoting bicycle and pedestrian advocacy. Her experience was facilitated by Ohio Wesleyan’s Small Grant Program for Signature Projects, part of The OWU Connection.

Lessons learned: “Moving to Austin has allowed me to prove to myself that I can live on my own and that my education at OWU has provided me [with] a sturdy foundation for life. Through the skills that I have learned at OWU, I was able to further my responsibilities within each of my internships as well as pick up another.

“Going to Austin, I thought I was purely going to work in the art conservation field. I thought I was going to be working full-time. To my surprise, I was only scheduled to be working two official days per week; one at each internship. From there, I was able to expand the connections that I made by working with other organizations.

“[My first internship] was at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum. Knowing I wanted to go into art conservation, Katie Robinson, the museum’s curator, tried to let me do tasks that pertained to the field. I was able to propose things that I believed would benefit the museum.

“I worked in the actual home of the late Charles Umlauf, going through his personal belongings, including his drawings of Farrah Fawcett. Moreover, working at the Umlauf contributed to my education because it has confirmed that I want to pursue either art conservation or preservation. Through working at the Umlauf, I was able to see the internal operations of a nonprofit museum organization.

“In addition to working at the Umlauf, I was at the Harry Ransom Center. [The center is located] on the University of Texas at Austin’s campus and has archives that consist of millions of books, thousands of photos, and many other important memorabilia. I worked in the preservation department [and made] housing for damaged books.

“My supervisor taught me how to make phase boxes, tuxedo boxes, and pamphlet binders. It furthered hand skills I had learned in my studio classes at Ohio Wesleyan. These skills included using different tools, such as vagelli, as well as [mastering] both accuracy and precision in creation.

“Lastly, I interned at Bike Texas. [Working there] has given me communication skills I did not have before. Moreover, it has opened doors to positions in administration and curation. Through Bike Texas, I [met and made connections with] Texan legislators as I lobbied the Texas State Capitol for our annual bipartisan bike ride at the National Conference for State Legislature.

“From this experience, I have earned a potential and likely position working in the capitol as a legislative [aide] during session. This opportunity will allow me to further network as well as aid me in learning about grant- and bill-writing processes.

“Overall, my experience in Austin has been nothing short of amazing and I hope to be moving back soon.”

Why I chose Ohio Wesleyan: “I chose OWU because I saw the opportunities I could take regarding travel and individualized research. So far, I have done one Small Grant Program for Signature Projects, three Travel-Learning Courses, a service trip, and two directed readings.”

My plans after graduation: “After OWU, I will be going to grad school for art conservation.”