Student Spotlight: Michele Baer

MicheleBaerMichele is a multicultural dancer-choreographer, cultural advocate, researcher, and strategist. Her dance studies and performances have comprised of hiphop, house, West African (Guinea and Mali), Haitian, Afro-Brazilian and Afro-fusion dance traditions. Michele obtained her BA in Development Studies from Brown University, where she was a Teaching Assistant in the Mande/West African Dance Program and wrote an honors thesis in human rights and feminist theory. After graduation, she moved back home to the San Francisco Bay Area, where she expanded her dance studies, worked in human rights philanthropy, and interned with arts organizations. In New York City, Michele has completed internships in grantmaking, fundraising, and research; is a member of Dance/NYC’s Junior Committee; contributes to a young feminist giving circle; teaches seasonal dance workshops; and currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant. She is a member of the Class of 2015.
What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University? First, access to and the ability to maximize the resources of New York City and Columbia University. Additionally, I sat in on a class after I was offered admission and liked how driven, sharp, and multi-talented the students were. During that same visit, I was able to have a conversation with Dr. Dubin, and he helped me see that the program would not only be supportive of but also encourage my passion for social justice in/through the arts. Finally, the fact that TC offered a better financial aid package than my other comparable options also affected my decision.

How are your studies helping to advance your career goals? I came into this program wanting to devote my career to ensuring that diverse cultural arts organizations and communities are viable in, relevant to, and supported by the societies in which they operate. The program helped me better understand the channels through which I can advance that goal and afforded me opportunities to connect with organizations that and individuals who are helpful for my work to advance cultural equity. Especially helpful for me were my courses in cultural sociology, cultural policy, and research design, as well as my electives in urban planning and African-American Studies. Additionally, taking business courses has given me the confidence that upon graduation it is entirely possible that I could found my own organization, incorporate it, and hit the ground running.

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