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How One Internship Led Elli Stogiannou ’22 to Art History

Student stands in front of garden.

Elli Stogiannou ’22 came to Pomona in 2018 to join her older sister Aliki, an international relations major who graduated in 2019. Following in her older sister’s footsteps, Stogiannou was also interested in studying a similar field — international relations and politics. That is, until a summer internship funded by the Pomona College Internship Program (PCIP) changed the course of her studies.

An international student from Greece, Stogiannou took advantage of the resources provided by the Career Development Office (CDO) during her first year at Pomona. “With the help of the CDO, you get to think a lot about your interests and career, I learned that hands on,” says Stogiannou. “My sister had done PCIP. I had heard a lot about PCIP through information sessions, and I started scheduling appointments with the CDO.” PCIP summer funding makes it possible for students to take advantage of unpaid or low-paying internships by offering stipends to cover the cost of living and travel expenses.

After meeting with Lauren Cardenas, assistant director of experiential learning and career advising, Stogiannou started looking for internships in Europe in order to be closer to home. With her interest in politics and education policy, she applied for internships in that field but did not receive any offers. With support from Cardenas, Stogiannou persevered in her internship hunt.

Stogiannou applied for one last opportunity — with the Hellenic National Commission for UNESCO in Athens, Greece. UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and seeks to build peace through international cooperation in education, the sciences and culture. At the same time, Stogiannou applied for PCIP summer funding to cover the cost of living expenses in Athens. Without PCIP funding, she would not have been able to accept the UNESCO internship when they offered it to her, because Athens is more than a five-hour car ride away from her home in Asvestochori, Thessaloniki.

The six-week internship from late May to early July was an eye-opening experience for Stogiannou, who had wanted to learn what the day-to-day of working at in the public sector would be like.

The first few weeks were about learning the ways of the office. Stogiannou acquired administrative skills, doing everything from responding to phone calls and emails to checking the news for mentions that would be of interest to the office.

“After my first week, I scheduled an appointment with my supervisor and asked for more responsibilities in the office — they said yes,” she says.

In addition to the administrative tasks, Stogiannou was then responsible for drafting a report about the advancements in Greece’s educational sector from 2016-2020. The work required translations from Greek to English and from English to Greek, a lot of research and staying current on news as the country continued to experience changes in the educational sector in response to the influx of refugees and the increasing need to move forward with the integration process.

Stogiannou’s internship experience also connected her to graduate interns and UNESCO staff involved in cultural management — a field that connects art and cultural institutions with the general public to advance the level of culture in a society.

Towards the end of her internship, Stogiannou began helping plan UNESCO events, including organizing an annual teacher’s award ceremony event that recognizes the efforts of teachers working in rural and/or marginalized regions. Working on that gave her experience with technical aspects of event logistics that has helped her with her current position on the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) government as vice president of campus events where she oversees the Pomona Events Committee (PEC) and helps manages a budget of around $100,000 to sponsor events for the student body like Ski-Beach Day.

During this time at UNESCO, she took advantage of the invitations she received via email and visited art galleries and consulate events that opened a new door into the world of art and art education.

"My only art class at Pomona had been photography and before that I hadn’t considered myself an artist, but now I was looking at how I could use art in my professional life, and especially its applications in education.”

Thrilled at discovering how art and education intersect, Stogiannou visited the Acropolis Museum and talked to employees there about how community outreach works, how many students visit every year and how public schools benefit from such places full of art and history.

“What I learned is that politics is a great way of making a change and changing policy; however, there are other less ventured paths I hadn’t considered before, like getting into art and education as a career.

“PCIP taught me that having experience in one field helps you understand yourself.”

Soon after her internship was over, Stogiannou was back home in Asvestochori, where she began to do some research on all of the majors offered by Pomona College.

“Realizing the importance of art in my development, I decided to register for further art and some ​art history classes, an adjacent field that seemed to be a great match with my updated academic interest,” says Stogiannou.

This semester, she’s taking two art classes and two art history classes.

“I love learning about art! I read a lot about art history and spend a lot of time in the darkroom and the fiber studio. In comparison to reading about politics and economics, I feel closer to my true nature. I am learning so many quirky details that I call my mom to tell her ‘Did you know this? And did you know that?’”

Stogiannou also has a new faculty advisor, Professor of Art Lisa Anne Auerbach, who is supporting her exploration into the fields of art and art history.

In addition, Stogiannou applied for and secured an education outreach internship with the Pomona College Museum of Art for the academic year 2019-2020.

“Through this experience I will gain insight in the teaching of art history to third graders, designing a lesson plan and fulfilling it. I will get the experience I want. For my next summer, I’m thinking of getting research experience and I’m hoping to get that at a museum, as curator or research intern. There’s just so many things one can do with art history.”

Still a few years away from graduation, Stogiannou is excited to know she has many options as an art history major. Non-formal education programs like an afternoon school in rural Greece called The Children’s Orchard appeal to the sophomore, as does community engagement work or a career working in museums and galleries doing education outreach to the public.

“So many paths I could follow!” she says.