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On August 1, Youth Insights welcomed four alumni back to the Whitney to help us celebrate the final day of the YI Summer Intensive. Program participants gathered in the Whitney Studio, bearing all kinds of baked goods for a final day potluck celebration, and took some time to chat and write thank-you notes to summer speakers before our informal panel with the alumni began.
Because this YI Summer program focused on career exploration, our alumni panel was made up of four previous YI-ers who now work in interesting jobs in different facets of the art world. Azikiwe Mohammed, who spoke first, talked about his work running a youth center and concert space. He also discussed his other interests, and how he balances his own artistic and stylistic passions with customer demands in his work as both a photographer and a DJ. Shahrina Ankhi-Krol, a lawyer specializing in art and contract law, gave us an interesting perspective on how sometimes careers that don’t seem to have anything to do with art—like law—can surprise you. She incorporates her love for art into her daily life as a lawyer, and she told us stories about the intricacies of artistic copyright law—not always something that people take into account when they think about a career as an artist or designer!
Diane Exavier—who is not only a former YI participant but was also recently part of the YI staff—now works at Arts Connection, running their teen program, the Teen Reviewers and Critics (TRaC). She is also a playwright and she told us about some of her recent performances as well as how she manages to write plays with a full-time job. The secret? She sets deadlines for herself, like writing a play a day for a month. Impressive. Finally, Caitlin Dinoski, a film editor, talked about what it takes to break into the field (internships and Final Cut Pro!) and showed us some of her work. All the alums had vastly different jobs, but all agreed that YI, whether it inspired or just nurtured their love of art, played a big part in their eventual career path. It was great to get a chance to talk to them about their experiences—over cupcakes, no less—and a fitting end to a summer of career discovery and discussion.
By Correna Cohen, Youth Programs Fellow