Sophia Jeon


UMFA’s directors talk about the institution’s educational philosophy


Art and art history are my long-standing interests. Being inspired by an art museum is one of the best ways to spend my time meaningfully. When I first toured the University of Utah campus in August 2021, the place that caught my eye the most was the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. The UMFA’s website confidently presented its educational philosophy and outreach, and I found it to have credible value with a long history and a variety of projects. That was the reason for me to decide that UMFA as an institution was what I wanted to explore for my story.

UMFA’s Learning and Engagement Department has been contemplating and researching various educational programs in addition to exhibitions and gallery tours to communicate with diverse community members across the state. To delve deeper into the institution’s current activities, I contacted the department’s staff members, all of whom readily accepted my request for an interview.

All interviews went very smoothly, even though it was my first experience interviewing someone with a Zoom meeting. In the first interview with Ashley Farmer, the co-director of adult and university programs, I was able to get interesting information about the exchange between UMFA and the U. Since UMFA is the state’s fine arts museum but at the same time an institution affiliated with the U, what Farmer told me was informative for me as a student at the U, and furthermore, for my story to be published in U NewsWriting.

The second interview with Mindy Wilson, the director of marketing and communication, was also helpful to get information about the UMFA’s ongoing activities. Most of all, I was impressed that Wilson said she was happy to have a conversation with me, a student at the U, as UMFA prioritizes communication with students on an educational level. The interview with her made it meaningful for me to explore a new institution.

Unlike the other three interviews, the interview with Annie Burbidge Ream, the co-director of K-12 and family programs, was the only one conducted in person. We were able to meet and have a chat at the UMFA cafe. Faced with Ream’s trustful tone of voice and her confident facial expression, I could feel that she took great pride in her own work as an educator.

The last Zoom interview with Virginia Catherall, the curator of education, family programs, visitor experience, and community outreach, was also meaningful. She explained about the different events taking place off-campus. What impressed me the most was hearing about the growth process of UMFA from her perspective. Since Catherall has been working at UMFA for 27 years, listening to her about the history and growth of the institution has been a huge help in developing my story.

It was important and beneficial for my story to get specific information from the practitioners hosting direct activities for the museum to fulfill its net function as an educational institution. However, it was not an easy task to put the large amount of information and program lists received from each interviewee in writing. It was a challenge not only to find only the essential points of my writing among various pieces of information, but also to determine the order in which to arrange them.

Nevertheless, I was able to enjoy having pleasant conversations with people I have never met before and writing about them. Most of all, the fact that the interviewees enjoyed communicating with me and actively responding to my interview gave me a lot of confidence in writing the story. Exploring the UMFA, an institution with close ties to my university and at the same time a place where I personally love to go, has in the end enriched my story as a whole and allowed me to enjoy writing about it.


Marketing and public relations are essential to keeping up with current trends. No matter how great a product or service you have, if it is not promoted, no one will know.

The reason I am studying Strategic Communication at the University of Utah is to become a public relations specialist who can quickly understand market changes and recognize the needs of the public.

To utilize the diverse approaches for marketing and communication, I have learned and mastered talents and skills in different fields. I not only have computer literacy skills for social media use, such as video editing, Photoshop, illustration, and digital calligraphy, but also can use software programs for data analysis and statistics. I also have talents in taking pictures, analyzing films, and discussing current social affairs.

From a young age, I like to introduce myself to people and enjoy expressing my thoughts in writing. Taking advantage of those strengths, as a student aspiring to become a public relations professional, I am currently learning how to connect with, inform, and persuade people to meet public concerns.

It will always be fun and exciting for me to communicate with different people in the world.