Student stories

Greek and Roman Studies student explores museum sector through co-op

Emily Golumbia

Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies; Haida Gwaii Museum

Greek and Roman Studies student Emily Golumbia says the UVic Co-operative Education Program (co-op) has been “instrumental” in helping her launch a career in the museum sector. Emily has spent three co-op terms working in museums: one as an interpreter at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff, and two as a curatorial assistant at the Haida Gwaii Museum.

“When I came to UVic I was overwhelmed with all of the options that were before me,” Emily says. “I was able to follow my passion for history and ancient cultures, majoring in Greek and Roman Studies. Before coming to university, I didn’t realize that pursuing these sorts of interests was an option for me, and that a future working in a museum, which is my career goal, was a future I could obtain. Co-op was instrumental in my coming to this realization.”

While working as an interpreter for the Whyte Museum, Emily was responsible for developing, memorizing, and delivering tours about the history of the area, helping to install a new art exhibit, cleaning heritage homes on site, and working in the museum’s archives.

At the Haida Gwaii Museum, Emily was able to gain an in-depth look at the behind-the-scenes workings of a museum. “Since the museum has a relatively small staff, I was exposed to many different and diverse aspects of museum work, including writing labels, screening potential artists for shows, installing new exhibits, and conducting research,” she says. She also worked on virtual tours for the American Museum of Natural History in New York, which was collaborating with the Haida Gwaii Museum on ways to make Haida artefacts accessible to its New York audience.

Emily is currently planning on pursuing a master’s degree in Museum Studies at the University of Toronto. She is particularly interested in issues of repatriation and cultural representation of Indigenous peoples in Canadian museums.

As she reflects on her time at UVic, Emily is grateful that UVic Co-op gave her the tools to get started on her dream career: “They gave me both the resources and the opportunities to shape my future. With them I was able to take something I was passionate about, but unsure of how to develop, and turn it into amazing career opportunities.”

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