Pictured: Lisa Rybovich Crallé earned a BA in Studio Art before coming to UC Davis where she received her MFA in the same discipline. Her installations and collaborative performance projects incorporate drawing, painting and sculpture. (Courtesy Lisa Rybovich Crallé)
Graduates of arts programs are often considered to be more creative and insightful than many of their peers, but would you believe they’re also among the happiest professionals?
Believe it. Arts alumni aren't just surviving in today’s workforce, they’re thriving.
According to several national and international surveys, artists are "are among the happiest professionals — reportedly happier than lawyers, financial managers, and high school teachers."
UC Davis offers a variety of graduate degrees in the arts through its College of Letters and Science, ranging from M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Performance Studies to the new MFA in Creative Writing, and many graduates of these programs go on to have unique, fulfilling professional lives.
Here are six alumni of UC Davis graduate programs who have careers that keep them smiling.
Direct an experimental dance company
Artist, choreographer, writer, activist and ritualist are all words Keith Hennessy uses to describe his current job title. As artistic and executive director of the non-profit Circo Zero, Hennessy gets to wear quite a few hats.
Circo Zero has been described as one of the most prolific dance-performance companies on the West Coast. The diverse team of artists creates interdisciplinary, experimental performances motivated by movements for social, racial, gender and economic justice. They’ve racked up international awards and recognition in the process. The New York Times once described Hennessy in the director’s role as “an impressive improviser with a wiry forcefulness and a decided charisma.”
He says his favorite aspects of the job are collaborating with brilliant artists, traveling to international festivals, engaging with curious art and getting to sleep in most of the time.
“I realized that my generation of artists, and the one before me, had hugely expanded what's possible in academic research, practice, learning and teaching.”
Hennessy completed both an MFA and Ph.D in performance studies at UC Davis 2017. Having finished his finished his BA at age 40, Hennessy had a strong sense of his career path going into the graduate programs. Yet, “the years of study, production, conversation, and experimentation helped to expand and re-contour the path,” he said.
Empower students to use their talents for good
It wasn't long after graduating from UC Davis with a BA in history that Mary Anderson realized her two greatest passions were outside of history.
“I loved the arts and I loved doing service,” she said. “I started thinking, ‘How can I do both?’”
She found the answer while pursuing her MFA in 2007 and her Ph.D. in 2009 in performance studies. She could become a professor of the arts, working daily to uplift her students.
Part of Anderson’s role as Associate Department Chair in Theatre & Dance at Wayne State University involved founding and now facilitating the Performance/Exchange program. For 10 weeks out of the year, her students work in public schools in the Detroit area. They create a touring theater show, design an arts-based project that fits the students’ needs, and provide mentorship to younger students interested in an arts education.
Read the full story by visiting the in the UC Davis "What Can I Do With My Major?" blog
About Graduate Studies at UC Davis
Graduate Studies at UC Davis includes over 100 dynamic degree programs and a diverse and interactive student body from around the world. Known for our state-of-the-art research facilities, productive laboratories and progressive spirit – UC Davis offers collaborative and interdisciplinary curricula through graduate groups and designated emphasis options, bringing students and faculty of different academic disciplines together to address real-world challenges.
UC Davis graduate students and postdoctoral scholars become leaders in their fields: researchers, teachers, politicians, mentors and entrepreneurs. They go on to guide, define and impact change within our global community.