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Nicole Kite

An Artist Finding Her Fit in the Wisconsin MBA

by Nicole Kite Friday, March 18, 2016

When I moved to Madison from Berkeley, California, I had all sorts of second thoughts. Business school seemed like an alien world to me, and I was worried if I’d be able to relate to any of my peers. I instinctively knew it was good to get out of my comfort zone for the sake of personal growth (and what, I thought, could be more uncomfortable for me than business school) but, would I feel too much like a fish out of water?

Before coming to UW, I studied landscape architecture, had an irregular art practice making wood block sculptures, and worked at a close-knit community art center managing education programs. Most days, I left with a bit of paint or clay on my clothes. I knew business school would have an entirely different feel, and I wasn’t sure how it would fit on me. Indeed, for much of the first semester I felt like no one spoke my language. It was months before I felt comfortable using words like "security" or "amortization" in a sentence. Fortunately, I've found an incredible community of students from across every specialization and have been continually delighted by the Class of 2017’s humility, humor, and kindness.  Further, I continue to develop my fluency in the language of business, and the rewards for stretching my mind to look at problems from so many new lenses have been tremendous. I couldn’t be happier to be here.

I found the Bolz Center while searching for graduate programs that offered an opportunity to study the arts while simultaneously develop leadership capacity. The Bolz Center offers a very unique, compelling program developing arts leaders within both a world-class public institution as well as a city that whole-heartedly embraces the role of the arts in its economy.

I've been able to engage with the Madison arts community in numerous ways. In addition to my Project Assistantship at Overture Center for the Arts, I volunteer each week at the Bubbler, a community arts space housed within the main branch of the Madison Public Library. The Bolz Center visited the Bubbler in August and, intrigued by their work, I now assist with their Artist in Residence program. My work with these organizations has given me the opportunity to apply my classroom learning within the larger community.

This summer, I’ll be interning at the Wormfarm Institute in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. Wormfarm works at the intersection of arts and agriculture and is a big player in the creative placemaking movement we’ve examined in depth this year. I couldn’t be more excited to join them. I’ll be implementing their new donor management software, conducting financial analysis of their programs, and developing methods for them to learn about their audiences.

Upon graduation, I look forward to continuing to work at the nexus of visual arts and public space, applying my deepened perspective to one of the many fascinating organizations working in this domain.