Introducing the 2023-24 Block Museum Student Associate Cohort

The Block Museum of Art is happy to introduce the 2023-2024 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 26 academic departments, including Cognitive Science, Global Health, Industrial Engineering, Art History, Communication Studies, Sociology, Economics, Environmental Science, Chemical Engineering, Data Science, Arabic, Science in Human Culture, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Environmental Policy & Culture, French, Radio/TV/Film, Human Development in Context, Social Policy, African American Studies, Journalism, Dance, Political Science, Learning Sciences, Data Science, Comparative Literary Studies, and English.

“Our Student Associates inspire us every day with their questions, ideas, energy, and commitment to thinking together with care, generosity, and criticality of the role of art and museums on campus, and in our world today.”

-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 senior 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.

Julia Azevedo

Industrial Engineering and Art History (2024)

As a BMSA, I am excited about exploring art outside of the classroom setting and getting to engage with more people in our community who love art as much as I do! I was drawn to the program by the idea of learning more about the inner workings of a museum and getting to engage with exhibits as more than just a viewer. Other than The Block, you can also find me around campus running events for the Society of Women Engineers and the Brazilian Student Association.

Solome Bezuneh

Communication Studies and Sociology (2024)

I am a senior 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.

Ethan Bledsoe

Economics and Environmental Science (2026)

As someone who has always been passionate about the arts and its power to connect people, I am thrilled at the opportunity to join The Block. What excites me most is engaging with a diverse range of audiences and facilitating meaningful conversations about art and its relevance to our lives today. I am also thrilled about being part of a close-knit community of peer learners and supporters.

Gabrielle Bliss

Chemical Engineering and Data Science (2025)

I study 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!

Zayn Elmasry

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

My name is Zayn Elmasry, and I’m a fourth-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 again this year.

Kevin Foley

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

I’m a fourth-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.

Madeleine Giaconia

Radio/TV/Film and Art History (2024)

I’m thrilled to return to the Block family after a wonderful experience as the Block’s curatorial intern in my sophomore year. I have always thought of art as the purest form of human expression, which gives it great power to teach and bring people together. Outside of the art history community, I spend time working in lighting design on RTVF student film sets—you can often find me attempting to precariously back an equipment-filled UHaul up to campus buildings.

Symone Harris

Human Development in Context (2026)

I am a sophomore from Atlanta, Georgia studying Human Development in Context on the pre-med track, and I am thrilled to begin my journey working as a Student Associate at The Block this year! Since the beginning of my freshman year at Northwestern University, I felt that The Block was a very special place, and I knew I had to be a part of it. As a Block Museum Student Associate, I am privileged to be part of a team in which we are able to further educate and stimulate conversations in our community about shared emotional and physical experiences through art. 

Zeki Ülgür Hirsch

Art History (2024)

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.

Ipsita K

Art History and Social Policy (2024)

I’m a senior studying Social Policy and Art History, from Charlotte, North Carolina. I love museums and art, and I’m especially interested in what museums can offer communities, and also how museums like the Block can reveal often overlooked stories by engaging with so many different perspectives. 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 incredibly excited to spend this year at the Block learning with other student associates!

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 senior from Harare, Zimbabwe. Working with art is the opportunity to constantly learn something new- from your peers, artists, and the object itself. Time spent at a museum (especially the Block!) always means walking away with something compelling to ponder for a while afterwards. 

Meena Sharma

Learning Sciences (2025)

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.

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 senior 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!

Roy Zhu

English and Environmental Sciences (2025)

I am currently part of the Speaker Relations Committee for Northwestern Community for Human Rights (NUCHR) and I perform improv with Northwestern’s only multicultural improv group, Out Da Box (ODB). I’ve taken a couple of art and poetry classes that centered on Block exhibitions that were current at the time, and I loved working with the art pieces and being able to walk through the gallery just trying to imagine the artist working on a piece. I also love hearing the art talks and seeing artists speak about their works! To me, art is an expression of love and care. It can be a necessary act of surviving in a world that does not value creation and sustenance, or simply an act of play and joy. 

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