Annie Poslusny, ’19, dreamed of going back to school to study art history. With an undergraduate degree in French, she considered just taking the necessary courses to prepare her for a graduate art program. Instead, she chose to first earn a second undergraduate degree with a self-designed contract major in art history.
“My time at Meredith gave me the chance to explore all of my interests while also affording me internship opportunities. I could have saved some time by just taking the requisite courses for graduate school, but I would have wondered about other unexplored options. I would have missed out on all of the personal growth that comes with trying new things and getting out of your comfort zone.”
Earning a second bachelor’s degree has also made her a more focused, confident, and ultimately a much stronger candidate for graduate programs. Her diverse experiences at Meredith have included several internships as well as conducting and presenting undergraduate research.
The supportive environment at Meredith made her more open to taking risks and growing in new ways.
“I used to be terrified of public speaking. At Meredith, I’ve had to do many presentations. I gave two research presentations on Celebrating Student Achievement day, and presented a paper at the SECAC conference in Birmingham, Alabama. While I still get nervous, I have become a good public speaker, and I’m proud of how far I’ve come.”
Annie has completed three internships while at Meredith. She interned at Triangle Artworks, an arts non-profit organization where she wrote reviews and articles for their website, assisted in setting up for company events, and worked on the company’s annual report. She also interned at the Frankie G. Weems Gallery on Meredith’s campus, where she learned how to install and de-install an exhibition, interviewed artists, and wrote articles and reviews for the College’s newspaper and the art department’s website.
Finally, she worked as a curatorial intern at the North Carolina Museum of Art, where she further expanded her research knowledge through projects not typically available to an undergraduate student.
“I’ve gained valuable research experience as well as learned what it’s like to be a museum curator,” said Annie. “Some of my most exciting projects have been to assist in the authentication of a painting, and researching the provenance of a Spanish painting. So far I’ve assisted in dating the painting to before 1642, and am currently working to prove who the artist was.”
In addition to the rich experiential learning she found at Meredith, Annie said her faculty, who were both encouraging and challenging, were critical to her growth.
“When I first started at Meredith, I didn’t know what to expect. I was nervous that I wouldn’t fit in, wouldn’t be any good, or just wouldn’t like it. One of my first classes was Drawing 101. My professor’s warmth and encouragement made me want to come to class. I felt accepted. I think if she had been a less supportive and kind person, I may not have continued at Meredith. But I loved it, and I stayed.”
She found that same level of support from other faculty and staff across campus, from the art department head who fostered her love of art history, to a librarian who showed her how to find sources for her first paper, even before she knew how important research would become in her life. An interior design professor challenged Annie to “show me who you are in your work,” a comment that stayed with Annie and made her want to always do her best while understanding that mistakes are part of the creative process.
“The art department at Meredith has taught me how to turn my mistakes into triumphs. They have taught this perfectionist that mistakes are what make something, or someone, truly beautiful.”
An important life lesson Annie learned while earning her second degree was the importance of putting herself first, something she sees many women struggle with.
“Growing up in a dysfunctional family, I wound up taking care of everyone else, with no one taking care of me, and that behavior became ingrained in me. At Meredith, I quickly realized that I needed to prioritize myself if I was going to accomplish my goals.”
One of Annie’s marked strengths is persistence. That quality has served her well throughout this process and will continue to do so as she pursues a graduate degree in art history at UNC-Chapel Hill starting this fall.
“I wanted to go back to school and study art history and I never gave up on that dream. I have never given up on anything that was truly important to me,” said Annie. “I am stronger than I thought. I now believe I can do anything.”class of 2019 second degree self-designed major