Alex Olson '19

Major: Art with an emphasis in Art Education

What made you choose an art major?

Coming into Carroll I was on the fence about doing either art education or graphic design. I had always wanted to be a teacher, but like many who aspire to teach, I was told another path would be “better.” Going against the advice of naysayers, I enrolled as an art education major. I wanted to combine my love of art and working with students. Art had always been a productive and creative outlet for me to get out and understand my feelings, something I wanted to bring to others who chose to study art. I wanted to learn how to create an environment where students could explore and find self-confidence through creativity.

What is your career objective?

My goal is to become a high school ceramics teacher. Here at Carroll, I fell in love with ceramics and it became my focus, so I would like to have a ceramics or sculpture class of my own to teach.

How has what you’ve learned in your courses so far prepared you for your future?  

The one thing that I stress the most to anyone about Carroll’s education department is how they have such a great understanding of the importance of getting into classrooms as soon as possible. The very first education class gives opportunities to see different types of schools to broaden your understanding of what schools can be like. Jumping into your field experiences right away truly gives you a feeling of what it is like to be in a classroom as a teacher. The Waukesha School District gave me my greatest experiences. Through Carroll I started as a tutor for the AVID program at Waukesha South High school. I tutored every semester all four years, spending time at all three high schools and one middle school. I learned so much from that experience and I couldn't be more grateful for that opportunity.

What opportunities have you had to work closely with a faculty member and what impact has that had on your education?

Throughout all of my classes I found it easy to develop relationships with faculty and staff around campus. Even in classes outside of my major I was able to make such a connection with professors that years later they still say hello when we see each other around campus. My closest relationships, however, were definitely with the art and education faculty. They all take a great interest in getting to know students. I always felt like I could reach out for help, clarification, or just a good conversation. My advisor, Amy Cropper, has always been someone I could go to for anything. Even now as I am student teaching and I don’t see her often I know I can always send an email and she will do everything in her power to lend a hand. I always know I have a great group of people in my corner cheering on my successes and helping me through challenges.

What is the most memorable experience you’ve had in your education at Carroll?

The senior art exhibition that art majors are required to do pushed me so much as an artist, leading me to produce my highest quality work. My concepts were more developed than they ever had been. I learned so much about myself during that process and what I could accomplish. It was a great way to bring my academic journey at Carroll to a close.

How has Carroll enriched your growth as a person?

I found so many opportunities to get involved through Carroll. The one that was very important to me coming into college was that I could be involved in a choir. I sang all through school and I didn’t want to stop once I got to college. Carroll is unique in that it allows for non-music majors to participate in their ensembles for course credit, and all 4 years I participated in concert choir as well as two years in the chamber choir as well. It was an amazing opportunity to meet so many people outside of my major. Some of my fondest memories come from being a part of those groups. Carroll also offers many different organizations to become a part of. My freshman year I attended the Org Fair to learn about the different student organizations. I ended up joining the Campus Activates Board (CAB), learning about how to plan and run events, get involved in volunteer projects, and keep students of Carroll involved in activities on campus. My senior year I even ended up on the executive board as the social media chair which gave me the opportunity to design advertisements, make Instagram posts, and schedule Facebook events to reach as many students as possible. It was a great learning and leadership opportunity.

If you were recommending your major to a prospective student, what would you tell them?

I would tell them to go for it! My biggest piece of advice that helped me the most is to take any opportunity to be in a classroom. The more exposure and practice you have interacting with kids and content the easier it will be later when you are running your own classes. I would also suggest exploring as many media as you can. The best time to do it is in college. It is important to have a wide range of media exposure, especially for art education since you will be certified to teach any art subject K-12. But the most important piece of advice is to have fun and enjoy yourself. It should be a positive and fun experience.

How has financial aid made a difference in your life?

Financial aid was one of the major draws for me to Carroll. I was amazed that because of the way the financial aid and scholarships are set up at Carroll, it was more affordable for me to come here than it would have been for me to attend a UW school. I have been incredibly lucky to have the work study option in my financial aid package. I worked as a Resident Assistant for two years, overseeing a floor in Frontier Hall. I learned so much. I never would have expected that my financial aid package would make me a strong leader and more creative person. Because of the work experience opportunity, I feel even more prepared and ready to enter the work force. One of my favorite things about the scholarship programs is that often times you get to meet either the person or a member of the family that started the scholarship! I have met two or three of the donors who helped make my education possible. It is so rewarding to be able to give thanks to the actual person and show them the good work their generosity does.

What’s your favorite place to study on campus?

I have three places on campus that I frequently worked in. If it was group work, my absolute favorite spot is in Humphrey on the second floor overlooking the gallery. There is a large window overlooking the parking lot onto the football field. If I needed to buckle down and crank out a paper, the cubicles in the library were my go-to. It is absolutely silent, and you are in a small space with minimal distractions. But my favorite part about that spot is that each cubical has a window overlooking the quad. For reading, I took two literature-based classes, and when I had to do a lot of reading my favorite spot was the Bliss Gallery in Main Hall. It is always quiet, there's nice benches, and there is great art that changes multiple times a semester. It is a good place to check out frequently.

Learn more about the art program

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