Hometown: Heath, Ohio
Library Position: Circulation & Commons
Major: Studio Art
Jewell Porter, ‘16: You’re from Heath, Ohio. Did you intend to go to school so close to home, or did it just happen that way?
Tawnee GreenRiver, ‘16: I was interested in staying relatively close. I knew some people who went to Denison when I was in high school, so they showed me around a little bit. After hearing about the programs Denison had, I was really excited that there are things that I would enjoy and it was close by, so it was kind of a no brainer at that point.
J: How has your experience been living so close to home while going to school at Denison?
T: I think what I like most about being so close is that I know so much about the area and that makes me a resource, and I like being that kind of resource. I know where the malls are and different kind of stores and if you’re looking for something particular from the store, Wal-Mart’s not always the best option. There are other places that are better to go to. I know how to get around, and I have my car.
J: So you’ve worked in the library for a while.
T: I’ve worked here since my freshman year. I also worked here over the summers full time. That was really nice and convenient, and I do the same thing that I do in the school year.
J: What are your plans after college? We graduate in a few weeks.
T: Yeah, I know. I’m applying to grad school for art therapy for a master’s. That’s also in Ohio, up by Cleveland. I also have a couple job opportunities, so it’s kind of up in the air whether I’ll go straight to grad school or I’ll take a year off to work, which would be really smart because then I’d have money for grad school and probably money for a place to live, which would be nice.
J: What are the job opportunities?
T: There’s one in the art department. From what I understand, it might be a community liaison position for the studio art department and the Licking County community. There’s another small job opportunity also working with Denison in the Off Campus Studies department, but I haven’t decided yet if it’s something I’m fully interested in pursuing. Over the summer, I’m going to be working as a camp counselor for the Y, and I would have the opportunity to continue working at the YMCA in the fall and spring in their preschool program as a preschool teacher.
J: So, what made you want to pursue art therapy as a career?
T: In high school, I was really concerned about the career that I want. I decided that I want to help people and make art, so I actually ended up going to a workshop in Downtown Newark’s battered women’s shelter. There was a woman there who I think taught at Ursuline, which is the school I’m applying to in Cleveland… She suggested art therapy as something for me to pursue. I thought it sounded like the perfect career choice, so that’s been my goal, set in stone, since junior year of high school. Last year when I was abroad, one of my psychology professors who is from America but moved to Italy had a friend who was relatively new in her career as an art therapist. I had the chance to sit down and talk to her and ask her questions about the job, and she explained some of the day-to-day activities to me. I was so overwhelmed with emotion. It sounded exactly like what I want to do. Everything that I have learned about it has validated my career choice.
J: What have you done at Denison that has helped you prepare for this career?
T: Earlier on, I was already looking ahead to the prerequisites of grad school, so I had to take a certain amount of credit hours in psychology classes. Alongside that, I also had to take even more credit hours in different studio art mediums. I had to get a variety of experience in those types of work. That just really worked out because for the studio art major, you have to take a bunch of different kinds of art classes…
J: What are the different career options for someone interested in art therapy?
T: With art therapy, there are a lot of different options. When I went to visit Ursuline, they showed us all the different organizations that they work with in Cleveland, including working with inmates to working with children in hospitals to working with the elderly in hospitals and hospice centers and community centers and rehab, etc. There are just so many different kinds of fields to explore and I see a lot of those connections to Denison connections. That makes me more excited for the career.
J: Which route do you want to go down?
T: I probably will end up working with children. I’m really interested in working in a children’s hospital. But I’ve also been really interested in working with Christian organizations.
J: If you could give one piece of advice to a college freshman at Denison who also wants to go into art therapy, what would that be?
T: They did a good job choosing Denison because Denison’s studio art department, which is a great department, has so many opportunities and they’re so accommodating in different ways. Psychology-wise, they have just as many options. The other classes you take here are also beneficial.
I guess my advice would be to pay attention to how your classes cross because those kinds of things can be really beneficial.