Megan Friel graduated with a degree in Art History from the University of California, Davis. Her lifelong interest in the arts, arts education, and access to public arts spaces has led her to a career exploring these arenas further. She’s held internships at the De Young Museum, the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts and Stern Grove Festival. Most recently, she has continued to pursue her interest in the arts through her work in major gifts for University of California, Berkeley’s Division of Arts & Humanities. Her objective is to work in development and arts policy, striving to make the experience of viewing and engaging with the arts more widely accessible.
What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University? I was initially drawn to the program for its interdisciplinary nature. I loved that the program not only offered coursework in business and law but that it was structured so that students take classes outside of Teachers College, benefiting from being in class with students in other programs.
In the end, what finalized my decision to attend Teachers College was its students. When I sat in on a class, I was immediately impressed by both the quality of the discussion and the passion that each student had for their work. I knew after that class that my decision was made.
How are your studies helping to advance your career goals? The program teaches us to be thoughtful and intentional arts administrators. While our coursework teaches us how to do the work that we aspire to, it goes beyond this and pushes us to examine why we do the work that we do and why it is important to do it well. This aspect gives us a strong theoretical foundation. Further, the program encourages us to look at the field from every angle and to place the work that we do in a broader context.
Describe student life as a member of the ARAD community. Not only has the ARAD community created an extremely supportive educational environment, but I have already learned so much from other members of my cohort. We all came to the program with different experiences in the field, and we bring these diverse experiences into the classroom, illustrating and trying out the theories discussed in class in contexts from large ballet companies to small visual arts collections. It is a truly amazing experience to be in a room full of students that believe the arts are as important as I do.