As the Class of 2022 prepares for Commencement, May 6–7, The College Today will highlight how some of our graduating seniors spent their time at CofC, and what the future holds.
From the moment Lauren Dryzer set foot in the School of the Arts as a senior in high school in 2017, Dryzer was drawn to the Arts Management Program. Originally from Tennessee, Dryzer has been entranced by the power of the arts since early childhood, and wanted to find a college degree to intertwine that passion with a career. “My goal in life is to have an impact on the arts on a regional and national level,” says the arts management major and Honors College student. “I grew up in Knoxville where I was repeatedly told that being an artist would mean I’d be starving and homeless, but – instead of being discouraged – I wanted to prove everyone wrong.” Dryzer’s major advisor Kate Keeney helped Dryzer discover an interest in public administration, which led Dryzer to pursue a minor in political science to gain more knowledge on how the arts are affected on a state and federal level. Dryzer’s dream, one day, is to work for Americans for the Arts or the National Endowment for the Arts. “Every internship I completed was not only about gaining experience in my field,” says Dryzer. “I wanted to understand how arts organizations worked so that I could be more informed when addressing policy-related issues.” Dryzer has interned with the Charleston Music Hall, the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs for the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, J. Rhodes Interior Design, the Charleston Gaillard Center, and the Rivers Performance Hall Foundation. Most notably, Dryzer interned with the Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project and used the experience as inspiration for a required bachelor’s essay. Dryzer analyzed arts education implementation by using ABC as a model, focusing on how the organization partners with state agencies like the South Carolina Department of Education and the South Carolina Arts Commission. “What I love most about my degree is its adaptability,” says Dryzer. “As a kid, I never thought I’d enjoy being in business, and before entering college I never knew I could actually conduct research on the arts during my undergraduate career. When I began my first year at the College, I assumed there would be very little opportunities in the arts. I was incredibly wrong. Here I am four years later – struggling with choosing among thousands of possibilities for jobs and future academic programs.” Throughout Dryzer’s four years at CofC, Dryzer frequently heard the “starving artist” stereotype that often discourages students from pursuing an artistic career. “Even though I chose a more managerial and political career path, I’m still a visual artist and writer at heart, and now I have the knowledge and tools to run my own arts business,” says Dryzer. “If you need a sign to pursue the arts, use this. I had no clue when I started college that I’d wind up here. You never know where pursuing your passion will take you.” After graduating, Dryzer will be leaving Charleston to move to Washington, D.C., with the hopes of becoming involved in the arts whether through working at a nonprofit or an arts agency. After gaining experience in the field, Dryzer would like to pursue a Master of Public Administration or a Ph.D. in Public Affairs. “I have a gut feeling that D.C. is where I’m meant to be, especially if I want to influence the arts on a political level,” Dryzer says. “Even though I’ll miss Charleston, I want to live closer to the action so I can learn all that I can and – hopefully – contribute to long-lasting change in the arts.”