Kayla Batalha ’22
Why did you choose Bryant?
I really liked doing something interdisciplinary. I also loved that I could build relationships with my professors. I think that the cornerstone of what a university should be is challenging some of the parts of our culture that are complacent and demanding us to be better. The faculty members do that in really important ways.
How did you decide on your major?
A lot of the criticism liberal arts gets is that it’s so broad. But for me that was the allure — that I could do whatever I wanted. I could take an art class for my major and then I could, in very strategic ways, connect it to some of the cultural theory I was learning.
What makes Bryant’s literary and cultural studies program stand out?
Definitely the people. The literary and cultural studies program taught me to approach the world through a critical lens. They are so incredibly empathetic and welcoming. You aren’t just learning the material, but you’re learning their perspective, their experiences, and they’re learning from yours. I will be forever grateful for the experience of working with such amazing people.
Do you have any favorite classes?
One of my favorite classes was my LCS capstone with Professor Joan Zaretti. It helped shape the foundations for which I create. We did assignments like sketch notes. We would read a chapter of a book, and our way of taking notes was to artistically render the notes from the chapters. It’s just a completely different way of thinking about something as banal as taking notes and transforming it into something interactive and creative.
Tell us about your interactive art exhibit for your honors thesis project.
There had never been a creative thesis project to this magnitude. Part of my goal was to let future students know that you can do this. If you’re passionate about art or anything nontraditional, that is a valid form of research, and it can be really meaningful.
I wanted to enter the conversation of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The reason why I chose an interactive art exhibit is because oftentimes DEI can feel like it calls people out. I wanted to call people into the conversation and bring visibility to issues such as microaggressions in a way where everyone could participate. Humans are connected through stories. My exhibit shared stories in a visual way. Sharing stories is so important to how we relate to each other.
What advice would you give to incoming Bulldogs?
People think about careers in terms of what will make them the most tangibly wealthy. I would tell students to follow a career path that will make you intangibly wealthy, meaning that showing up to work is not something you actively dread. You’re doing work that feels meaningful and makes you passionate.
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