Introducing the 2022-23 Block Museum Student Associate Cohort

The Block Museum of Art is happy to introduce the 2022-2023 cohort of The Block Museum Student Associates. (BMSA) The BMSA serve as public facilitators, peer-to-peer ambassadors for the museum on campus, and in-house student advisors for all levels of museum staff and our Board of Advisors. BMSA students lead tours throughout the museum and engage our broad array of campus and community visitors in dynamic conversations about art and ideas that are relevant to our lives today. In addition to this public-facing role, Associates serve as key campus ambassadors for The Block and student advisors for all levels of museum staff and leadership, help to shape programming and projects at the museum, and learn more about museum practice through behind-the-scenes insights and experience.

The 2022-23 cohort represents over 20 academic departments, including Radio/TV/Film; Political Science; African American Studies; Gender & Sexuality Studies; Social Policy; History and Science in Human Culture; Learning Sciences; Dance; Political Science; Chemical Engineering; Journalism; Cognitive Science; Global Health; Communication Studies; Legal Studies; Art History; Economics; Art, Theory and Practice; Cultural Anthropology; and Data Science.

“We are honored to work and learn alongside the 2022-2023 Block Museum Student Associates cohort, and to think together about the critical role academic art museums play on and off campus as an engines for dialogue, research, innovative thinking, and community building.”

-Erin Northington, Susan and Stephen Wilson Associate Director, Campus and Community Education and Engagement

Meet the Student Associates

Mayán Alvarado-Goldberg

Cognitive Science and Global Health (2024)

I am a junior studying Cognitive Science and Global Health on the pre-med track from Los Angeles. My favorite exhibit was the Why We Rise exhibit in Los Angeles in 2019 because it combined representative multimedia art with conversations about mental health. I loved seeing how photographs, sculptures, and videos were used to convey taboo topics like anxiety and depression and to also depict emotional experiences like immigration detention centers through the eyes of artists of Color. It reminded me that art can and should be intersectional and it is important to have representation of all identity groups in artistic spaces. By being in the Block Museum Student Associates program, I hope to learn from the others in my cohort and help viewers at the Block have a similar experience of being seen and heard as audience members, just like I had at the Why We Rise exhibit.

Solome Bezuneh

Communication Studies and Sociology (2024)

I am a junior from Chicago, Illinois majoring in Communication Studies with a minor in Sociology. As a BMSA, I get the amazing opportunity to critically engage with a wide breadth of art and develop my close-looking analysis skills. Outside of my work at the Block, I serve as Vice-Coordinator of Programming in For Members Only, NU’s primary Black student organization. 

Gabrielle Bliss

Chemical Engineering and Data Science (2025)

I am a sophomore studying Chemical Engineering and Data Science. Although I am in Evanston now for most of the year, I call Austin, TX my home. I could not be more grateful for being raised in a city with such a vibrant arts and music scene, and am so excited to be able to continue exploring the world of art through Northwestern’s Block Museum. I love the inherent collaboration and community that art offers, whether this is between artists, museum-goers, or the tacit connection between the artist and the consumers of their work. My favorite works of art are the impressionist paintings of La Grenouillère by Monet and Renoir, as the story behind these paintings is a testament to the connections that art facilitates, plus… they’re beautiful!

Carolina Carret

Art History and Legal Studies (2023)

I am a fourth-year student studying Legal Studies and Art History. I’ve been living in Evanston for the past few years but I’m a proud Floridian, born and raised in Miramar, FL. It’s my second year here at the Block, and I feel so grateful and privileged to be here. I’m looking forward to meeting new people, continuing the friendships I’ve made thus far, and learning more about myself through art— both inside and out of the galleries!

Zayn Elmasry

Arabic and History, Science in Human Culture Program (2024)

My name is Zayn Elmasry, and I’m a third-year student studying Arabic, History, and Science in Human Culture. I spent this past summer working in museums and researching and creating academic programs. I’m super excited to be working at the Block Museum and can’t wait to spend more time there!

Kevin Foley

Gender & Sexuality Studies, Environmental Policy & Culture and French (2024)

I’m a third-year student from Holliston, Massachusetts. This year, I’m grateful for the opportunity to work in community with other students and museum staff. I came to the Block because I want to further explore the art world, namely the ways in which artists make statements about their lived experiences. In this position, I look forward to learning more about myself, my community, and the issues facing the world around us.

Eli Gordon

English Literature (2023)

I am a senior from the suburbs of Philadelphia studying English Literature. I have a deep interest in the visual arts, having spent my academic years and college summers dedicated to the field. I’ve been lucky to work as a summer administrative assistant to the visual and conceptual artist Derek Fordjour, and am just finishing an artist liaison internship with Gagosian. I am really thrilled to start working as a student associate at the Block, we are so lucky to have such a preeminent artistic space right here on campus.

Zeki Ülgür Hirsch

Art History (2024)

After my first year working at the Block, I’ve learned so much about new ways to approach art. Giving tours to groups who are not necessarily familiar with art history and being able to get them excited about art is an incredible experience that I’m honored to be a part of. My main interests are the arts of the ancient Middle East and the medieval Islamic world, so being able to get involved with Taking Shape is an amazing chance for me to see how these art forms were reimagined in the 20th century – no art exists in a historical vacuum.

Ipsita K

Art History and Social Policy (2024)

I’m a third-year student studying Social Policy and Art History, originally from Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m super fascinated by museums, but especially by what museums can offer their community (and what community means), and also how museums like the Block can tell often overlooked or suppressed stories. It’s always so difficult to pick a favorite piece, but I adore Y.G. Srimati’s Woman with Lotus. It’s a gorgeous piece, and it’s fascinating to see Srimati construct a visual language and identity that draws on the past (I was also drawn to it because I can see myself in it). I’m excited to spend this year at the Block learning with other student associates and engaging with community members!

Katy Kim

Art History and Political Science (2023), BMSA Program and Tour Coordinator

Art is a key part of my life, and I’m fascinated by how it both captures and expresses historical context, interiority, and human creativity. As such, I’ve always wondered how powerful institutions like the museum can promote public access to the arts, be that through robust educational programming and removing financial barriers to access. To my mind, the art museum is a uniquely contested space that holds immense potential for active discourse, education, and community. My role at the Block challenges me to engage with the history of museums, and contribute to the more equitable and accessible vision of the museum I believe in.

Jaharia Knowles

African American Studies and Journalism (2025)

 I’m excited to engage in conversations with my peers about art and expand my knowledge of artists of color and non-Western artistic styles!

Rowan McCloskey

Dance and Political Science (2025)

My name is Rowan McCloskey and I am studying Dance and Political science. I am from Columbus, Ohio. Coming to college was a big shift, but attending nearly every Block Museum Cinema screening in my first year helped me meet like-minded people, learn, and most of all, enjoy myself. My family values art very highly, so it has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mom is a visual artist and there are many musicians in the family. I started formally dancing when I was four and I mainly involved myself with movement art until I came to Northwestern. Even so, I believe arts in any form help to spread happiness, love, and compassion, which help to promote equity and equality in the world. I chose to be a Block Museum Student Associate to spread my love for art and expose fellow students to the arts on campus.

Nozizwe Msipa

Communication Studies (2024)

I am a junior in Communications Studies from Harare, Zimbabwe. Out in the world we are constantly surrounded by things to see, watch, gaze upon, understand. Museums like The Block are a great place to train the eye and brain in how to better appreciate the visual world and its hidden messages. Hopefully, after my time with The Block I come out well versed in the art of looking and engaging!

Margeaux Rocco

Art History, Art Theory and Practice, and Economics (2023)

I am a fourth-year Economics major, ATP and Art History minor from Columbus, Ohio. A painting I love is Pierre Bonnard’s Le chat blanc. It reminds me that art can serve any purpose; it can be political or emotional or something else entirely. It’s easy to get caught up in what a piece could mean, but sometimes it’s just nice to look at a painting of a cat.

Bengi Rwabuhemba

Cultural Anthropology, Global Health (2023)

I am a fourth-year student from Uganda studying in Weinberg and double majoring in Cultural Anthropology and Global Health. In another world, however, I believe I was an Art History major. Since my first class at The Block as a freshman, Introduction to Modernism, I have always been drawn to the museum. Viewing Felicité by Alain Gomis and meeting him in person was a transformative experience for me, and firmly cemented my relationship with the museum. Attending film screenings organized by Block Cinema, and walking through the exhibitions on weekends have been some of my favorite past-times. I hope to use my time as a student associate to build my visual vocabulary, learn from my talented, interdisciplinary team, and develop an understanding of what it means for a museum to be decolonized.

Meena Sharma

Learning Sciences (2025)

I am a second year student studying Learning Sciences. I grew up in Chicago, but my family moved to Evanston a few years ago. I am most excited about being able to engage myself and wider communities – especially those I grew up around – in creative vehicles of education, and am beyond happy to have the opportunity to do so with the Block. Outside of the BMSA program, I am on Deeva, a competitive South Asian fusion dance team, and serve on the board of the South Asian Students Alliance! I feel like I always have memorable and meaningful experiences with art, however what stands out is my experience with the Black Refractions exhibit in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I was amazed at how spaces to explore identity and forge new futures could be found in the most unexpected places.

Toy Suliman

Asian American Studies and Radio, Television, Film (2023)

I’m a senior majoring in RTVF and minoring in Asian American Studies. I hail from Maryland, and my interests in art, public history, and third world studies led me to the Block. I’m currently writing a thesis on the representation of Black/Asian relationships in romance films and directing a short film about a Sudanese American family. When not working on these projects, I enjoy singing with my acapella group, Soul4Real, and playing ping pong.

Tamara Ulalisa

Journalism and Political Science (2025)

I want to learn more about such an awesome corner of campus! I’m super passionate about anything to do with art and thought the Block would be a great place to expand upon my interests and get involved in the consumption and curation of art at Northwestern. Additionally, I’m a member of Fusion Dance Team and I write for Stitch, the fashion magazine! I also am involved in Womxn in Law, an affinity space aiming to give resources to women and non-binary individuals seeking a future career in law

Joyce Wang

Economics, Data Science, and Film (2024)

I am a junior studying Economics, Data Science, and Film. I’m originally from New Jersey. I want more people to learn about and engage in The Block’s events!

Bobby Yalam

Comparative Literary Studies and Economics (2024)

I came to the Block in search of a grounding space on campus to reflect and learn. I was drawn in by the opportunities in this program to learn about how a museum operates on the inside and to improve my skills at looking and interpreting as a visitor at other cultural sites. Knowing the ways artworks have resonated with me, I’m excited to facilitate impactful experiences for people who visit this unique resource on campus!

Hank Yang

Journalism, Political Science, and Religious Studies (2024)

I joined the Block because I love art museums and working in one sounded like the most amazing opportunity! I’m an artist and creating and displaying my art is a passion, so I thought it would be great to do that with other art. Additionally, I am the host of the Northwestern People Podcast, where I interview amazing people from Northwestern! Check it out!

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