Meet Courtney Carter ’17, HCAH Postbac Fellow!

Courtney Carter ’17 joined the HCAH staff this summer as the new Postbaccalaureate Fellow. 

 What is the role of the Hurford Center postbac position?

The Post Baccalaureate Fellowship incorporates a lot of different aspects of the Hurford Center’s mission, so I will be working with the faculty and staff at the Center and beyond to have a part in planning and executing the programs and events this year. My main responsibility is helping with the exhibition and student programs, especially in the VCAM’s three Create Spaces. I look forward to collaborating with the HCAH Student Advisory Board and connecting with other students that might want to partner with the Hurford Center.

What drew you to the position?

As a student at Haverford, the Hurford Center’s opportunities in arts, leadership, and exhibitions provided me with the tools to find and pursue my career path. I would love to be a part of that opportunity for other students here as well.

Since you’re coming into the position as an alum, can you talk a little bit about your time at Haverford?

I really enjoyed my time at Haverford, and am glad to be back. I was an English major, and if VCAM had been around, it would have been my second home. I was very involved, per the usual Haverford student. I played varsity lacrosse, served on the Body Text editorial board, co-founded Haverminds, was a Custom’s Person, and worked as gallery assistant in the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. For me as a student, Haverford was a place where I could make my own path, my own mistakes, and develop into the kind of person I want to be.  

What kinds of things did you do with the HCAH?

The Hurford Center brought many of my interests together in ways that I didn’t expect, so I am excited to be supporting some of these same programs as a Post Bac Fellow. Aside from my work with Body Text and the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, the Center funded two summer internships with the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Through the Tuttle Creative Residencies Program, the Center also supported my exhibition Consent to Be Seen, featuring Chicago artist Riva Lehrer’s artwork in Magill Library and co-curated with Kristin Lindgren. I was also one of the students to kickstart the “Critical Disability Studies” course with Kristin Lindgren, which involved building a partnership with the Center for Creative Works. In addition to the partnership itself, the Hurford Center supported a concluding exhibit in Zubrow Commons titled Symbiosis: Art, Science, and Community. This partnership has grown ever since, and was supported this year through VCAM’s new PACC initiative.

Instead of Zubrow Commons, the exhibit was in VCAM this year, right?

Yes, I wish I could have been in the country to see it! When I was a student I really had to search for exhibition space. A good example of that is the Consent to be Seen show in the library. We sort of had to seek out spaces like that and partner with other departments and buildings in order to make our project happen. It’s great to see VCAM open now as a location designated for these things to happen.

Are there any other ways that being a former Haverford student might inform the way that you carry out your role?

Yes, definitely. I hope that my familiarity with Haverford’s vibes will make it easier for me to connect with students and their projects. I feel that a part of what makes Haverford what it is, is the desire and drive from students, staff, and faculty to make things happen, even if you can’t see how it’s going to work out at first. That attitude is one that I adopted as a student and one that I will bring to this position as I work with students who want to do something special but don’t know how to make it a reality yet.

Would you talk more about what you’ve been up to since graduation?

Since graduating in 2017, I worked as a Dean’s Fellow at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, the first and only liberal arts college in Southeast Asia. My job focused on community building and student-facing program management. One of my biggest projects was organizing a Disability Day which was hosted as part of Diversity Week on-campus. While many other identities were being discussed, disability had not yet made it into the conversation. So I invited several Singaporean artists, scholars, and activists to campus to discuss how disability relates to their work. I wanted to make sure I was bringing in voices from within the Singaporean context to talk about their own experience, because I noticed how social justice and activism can sometimes look different than it does in the States. As it connects to Haverford, I appreciate how the Hurford Center values outside speakers visiting campus to share their perspectives and connect the campus to the Philadelphia community. I look forward to welcoming new guests this year.

What are you most excited for the coming year?

I am excited to see the new ways that the community uses spaces in the VCAM. Although the building was made with visual studies and media practice courses in mind, the space has so much potential to adapt to whatever people are interested in doing. As a student at Haverford, and a Dean’s Fellow in Singapore, I realized that there are different issues that present themselves each year as critical for the community to address, whether they be political, social, environmental, or otherwise. Each year is different, and I’m excited to see what issues come up this year and how I can try to respond to these as the Post Bac, through the context of Visual Culture and the Humanities.

What is a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

Spiderman is my favorite superhero.

Courtney will host weekly office hours in VCAM! Come by on Wednesdays between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.