Hi, my name is Angela McNamara; I’m a senior studio arts and communication dual degree student here at UMass! I’m also the marketing director for the University Programming Council, and a Resident Assistant in the Honors College.
Where is your hometown, and how does it compare to Amherst?
I’m from Andover, Massachusetts, which is a suburban town on the New Hampshire border, roughly 40 minutes from Boston. Growing up, I always thought of my town as pretty small, but western Massachusetts is even more rural than my hometown. One major difference is the UMass campus as a whole; the campus functions a lot like a self-contained city. When classes are in session, the campus is bustling and feels a lot like the cities I have lived in throughout my life. I love that the area has the beautiful scenery of western Mass, and still keeps some of the feeling of a more urban area.
Why did you choose your majors?
I knew that I wanted to go to school for studio arts when I was in high school because I had a strong interest in becoming a photographer. There's a stereotype that artists are lazy or unmotivated, but I have never felt that to be true because a lot of art majors I know work harder than many other students. I absolutely love being able to be creative in my classes, and I don't mind the work outside of class that studios often have. When I got to UMass I learned about the Dual Degree program and I knew I wanted to get involved. The Dual Degree program at UMass is slightly different than a traditional double major because it allows students to pursue two simultaneous bachelor’s degrees. It’s a little bit more work, but it has been a really rewarding program to be part of while here, and knowing that I’ll get two degrees at the end of the day is a great motivating factor. I chose communication because it allows me to get a different point of view on the field I want to enter. While I feel I get a great technical education in the art department, communication lets me understand a lot more of the theory behind the things I am creating.
What’s the most interesting class you’ve taken at UMass and why?
Last spring, I took Media Violence with Professor Erica Scharrer in the Communication Department. The class has an optional service learning component that allows students in the class to visit a local middle school and teach sixth graders about media violence. The class was super interesting, and the hands-on experience made it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Working with Professor Scharrer to build a curriculum for the 6th graders was challenging, but it was incredibly rewarding to see them respond to, and understand, the material.
Have you taken classes off campus or studied abroad? How was it?
As someone pursuing an art degree, it can be difficult to find the time to study abroad. I chose to spend the summer before my junior year at the University of Oxford studying marketing and communication through the Oxford Summer Seminar. The program is slightly different than a traditional study abroad program because around half of the professors are actually UMass professors that come to Oxford for the summer. The experience was incredible; the directors of the program work really hard to ensure that the classes do not impede us from experiencing life abroad, and we even get to partake in University of Oxford traditions like High Table Dinners. I would recommend studying abroad to anyone with an interest in travel, it was truly one of the best experiences of my life.
What do you want to do after you graduate?
When I was applying to colleges, I always assumed I would want to enter the professional art world after graduation. It was only when I added communication as my second degree that i realized I wanted to work in the artistic side of PR. I have a strong interest in graphic design and public relations, as well as marketing, and I hope to pursue something related to these in the future. I mean, obviously my dream job is to be a photographer, so I’m not writing it off yet, but I also would love to be a graphic designer. I really want to live either in Boston, San Fransisco, or London after graduation.